Emigration from Africa

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This article addresses recent emigration from Africa. See African diaspora for a general treatment of historic population movements. See recent African origin of modern humans for pre-historic human migration.
Map showing location of Africa.

During the period of 2000–2005, an estimated 440,000 people per year emigrated from Africa; a total number of 17 million migrants within Africa was estimated for 2005.[1] The figure of 0.44 million African emigrants per year (corresponding to about 0.05% of the continent's total population) pales in comparison to the annual population growth of about 2.6%, indicating that only about 2% of Africa's population growth is compensated for by emigration.[2]

During the 2000s, North Africa had been receiving large numbers of Sub-Saharan African migrants "in transit", predominantly from West Africa, who plan to enter Europe. An annual 22,000 illegal migrants took the route from either Tunisia or Libya to Lampedusa in the 2000–2005 period. This figure has decreased in 2006, but it has increased greatly as a result of the 2011 Tunisian revolution and the 2011 Libyan civil war. In 2005, 10,000 West African migrants heading for Europe were stranded in the Mauritanian port of Nouadhibou, and 20,000 sub-Saharan African migrants were waiting for an opportunity to cross to Europe in the Spanish enclaves in North Africa.[2]

Statistics[edit]

Since 2010, most years have seen a rising tide of migrants from sub-Saharan African countries into European Union countries, Norway and Switzerland and the US.

Asylum applicants to Europe, in thousands.

Note: Asylum applicants to Europe are first-time applicants after the removal of withdrawn applications. Sub Saharan African migrant may enter each destination by other than the means displayed in this chart. Consequently, these flow figures are incomplete and likely represent minimums. Increases in migrant stocks and inflows are not the same.[3] Source: Pew Research Center.

Sub Saharan African
asylum applicants to Europe[3]
2010 58 000
2011 84 000
2012 74 000
2013 91 000
2014 139 000
2015 164 000
2016 196 000
2017 168 000
Sub Saharan African lawful permanent residents and Sub Saharan refugee arrivals to the United States

Note: Sub Saharan African migrant may enter each destination by other than the means displayed in this chart. Consequently, these flow figures are incomplete and likely represent minimums. Increases in migrant stocks and inflows are not the same.[3] Source: Pew Research Center.

Sub Saharan African lawful permanent residents
and Sub Saharan African refugee arrivals to the United States[3]
2010 52 000
2011 48 000
2012 54 000
2013 56 000
2014 58 000
2015 60 000
2016 78 000
Origin countries of sub-Saharan migrants living in both the United States and Europe.

Top countries of birth of sub-Saharan migrants living in the United States and the European Union, Norway and Switzerland in 2017, in thousands.[3] Source: Pew Research Center.

United States[3]
Nigeria 280 000
Ethiopia 220 000
Ghana 160 000
Kenya 120 000
South Africa 100 000
Somalia 90 000
Liberia 80 000
Zimbabwe 50 000
Tanzania 50 000
Cameroon 50 000
European Union, Norway and Switzerland[3]
Nigeria 390 000
South Africa 310 000
Somalia 300 000
Senegal 270 000
Ghana 250 000
Angola 220 000
Kenya 180 000
D. C. Congo 150 000
Cameroon 150 000
Ivory Coast 140 000
If circumstances permitted, many sub-Saharan Africans would migrate abroad

About half or more in several sub-Saharan African countries would move to another country.[3]

Between February and April 2017, Pew Research Center surveyed in six of the 10 countries that have supplied many of the sub-Saharan immigrants now living in the U.S. Four of these countries are also among the top 10 origin countries for sub-Saharan migrants to Europe. The survey asked respondents whether they would go to live in another country, if they had the means and opportunity. At least four-in-ten in each sub-Saharan country surveyed answered yes, including roughly three-quarters of those surveyed in Ghana and Nigeria.

Percentage that would live in another country if had the means and opportunity to go[3]
Ghana 75 % of the pop.
Nigeria 74 % of the pop.
Kenya 54 % of the pop.
South Africa 51 % of the pop.
Senegal 46 % of the pop.
Tanzania 43 % of the pop.


The World Bank Migration and Remittances Factbook of 2011 gives separate regional summaries for Sub-Saharan Africa on one hand and the Middle East and North Africa on the other. For both regions, there is a surplus of emigrants, even though a substantial part of migration takes place within each region.[4]

For the Middle East and North Africa, there was an estimated stock of 18.1 million (5.3% of population) emigrants vs. 12.0 million (3.5% of population) immigrants. 31.5% of migration took place intra-regional, 40.2% was to high-income OECD countries. The main migration corridors for North Africa were identified as Egypt–Saudi Arabia, Algeria–France Egypt–Jordan, Morocco–France, Morocco–Spain, Morocco–Italy, and Egypt–Libya. The portion of refugees was estimated at 65.3% of migrants.

For Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank report estimated a stock of 21.8 million (2.5% of population) emigrants vs. 17.7 million (2.1% of total population) immigrants. 63.0% of migration was estimated as taking place intra-regionally, while 24.8% of migration was to high-income OECD countries. The top ten migration corridors were 1. Burkina Faso–Côte d'Ivoire, 2. Zimbabwe–South Africa, 3. Côte d'Ivoire–Burkina Faso, 4. Uganda–Kenya, 5. Eritrea–Sudan, 6. Mozambique–South Africa, 7. Mali–Côte d'Ivoire, 8. Democratic Republic of Congo–Rwanda, 9. Lesotho–South Africa, 10. Eritrea–Ethiopia.

In terms of destinations, as of 2017, nearly three-quarters (72%) of Europe’s sub-Saharan immigrant population was concentrated in just four countries: the UK (1.27 million), France (980,000), Italy (370,000) and Portugal (360,000). In the U.S., migrants from sub-Saharan Africa can be found across the country, with 42% in the American South, 24% in the Northeast, 18% in the Midwest and 17% in the West, according to the Pew Research Center.[3]

Europe[edit]

There is significant migration from Africa to Europe.

As of 2007, there were an estimated seven million African migrants living in OECD countries. Of these, about half are of North African origin, mostly residing in France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, while the other half are of Sub-Saharan African origin, present throughout Western Europe, with significant concentrations in Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

African immigration to the United States has been comparatively slight, totalling around 3,183,104 individuals as of 2010.[5]

Some of this migration is illegal. The European Union Frontex agency's "Operation Hermes" is also monitoring the Mediterranean between North Africa and Italy. Due to increased border controls along the Mediterranean, there has been a shift of preferred migration routes towards Greece.

African populations in Europe[edit]

Approximate populations of African origin in Europe:

  • Arabs and Berbers (including North African and Middle Eastern Arabs): approx. 5 million, mostly in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece and Russia. (see Arabs in Europe)
  • Sub-Equatorial Africans: approx. 5 million; mostly in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal.[6]
  • Horn Africans: approx. 1 million, mostly Somalis and Eritreans, mostly in United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Finland
  • Ethnic Europeans with colonial roots: approx. 8 million; mostly in France, United Kingdom, Greece and Belgium.
  • North African Jews: approx. 500 thousands; mostly in France.

Oceania[edit]

In Australia, the number of immigrants from Africa has grown substantially since the 1990s, with most concentrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The largest of these African Australian populations is the South African community, and the Census in 2011 recorded 145,683 South Africa-born people in Australia. News anchor Anton Enus, the author J. M. Coetzee, and the singer Selwyn Pretorius are examples of local celebrities from this community. Also substantial is the 40,000-strong Egyptian Australian community, mostly concentrated in Sydney,[7] the 30,000-strong Zimbabwean Australian community,[8] and the 28,000-strong Mauritian Australian community.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ World migration 2008: Managing labour mobility in the evolving global economy Volume 4 of IOM world migration report series, International Organization for Migration, Hammersmith Press, 2008 ISBN 978-92-9068-405-3, pp. 38, 407 .
  2. ^ a b 2006 OECD data, cited in World migration 2008, Hammersmith Press, 2008, ISBN 978-92-9068-405-3, pp. 409–10.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Philip Connor (March 18, 2018), "At Least a Million Sub-Saharan Africans Moved to Europe Since 2010. Sub-Saharan migration to the United States also growing", Pew Research Center
  4. ^ "MIGRATION AND REMITTANCES FACTBOOK" (PDF). Siteresources.worldbank.org (SECOND ed.). 2011. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  5. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  6. ^ "France's blacks stand up to be counted". Theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection" (PDF). Immi.gov.au. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection" (PDF). Immi.gov.au. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection" (PDF). Immi.gov.au. Retrieved 20 August 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Arno Tanner, Emigration, Brain Drain and Development: the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, 2009, ISBN 978-952-99592-1-1.
  • Belachew Gebrewold-Tochalo (ed.), Africa and Fortress Europe: threats and opportunities, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007, ISBN 978-0-7546-7204-3.
  • Hein de Haas, Irregular Migration from West Africa to the Maghreb and the European Union: An Overview of Recent Trends, International Organization for Migration, Geneva, 2008.