South-South migration

Usually, the narrative suggests an exodus from the Global South to the Global North. If you look at most of the countries in the Global South, most migrants move inter-regionally. They do not move to the Global North.

If you take Africa for instance, on average we have around 50 percent of migrants moving within Africa. But when you come to regions within Africa – West Africa, for example, which is portrayed as a source of irregular migration to Europe – then you have about 64 percent of migrants within West Africa moving to another destination in West Africa.

It was 80 percent in 1990. The decline is not because they are moving outside of Africa, but there are now new destinations outside West Africa, but still inside Africa, such as Gabon or Equatorial Guinea. The only region where you tend to have a higher proportion moving outside the region is Northern Africa, and they are not going to Europe. They are going to the Middle East.

If a majority of people move within their regions, then there is a need to look at South-South migration, which has been neglected in the media narratives and also political narratives. Everybody's focusing on South-North.

When we look at the impact of migration on development, if you think about remittances, the figures we’ve seen so far show that these are also increasingly sent within the region. Ghana, for example, receives a lot of remittances from Nigeria, Togo, and Burkina Faso. If you are ranking them, the US comes first, the UK comes second, then it goes to Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso.

But we hardly talk about this South-South migration and its impact on development and inequality. [...] Decolonising the story means that the writing on migration, the research, the storytelling should be led by scholars from the Global South working with scholars in the Global North. Scholars in the Global North tend to misunderstand or misinterpret mobility patterns. For instance, because they are in Europe, they just see an influx of people coming to Europe, especially since 2015.

Full titleQ&A: South-South migration has long been overlooked. Why?
Media typeInterview
Topics Migrant Labour & Exploitation, Migration Routes & Transport, Perspectives on Migration
Regions All Regions

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