Packing up their troubles: South Africans plan big move
Whether it's for a better job or to escape conflict, a new survey reveals the widespread appeal of migration in some sub-Saharan countries
One in five South Africans has emigration on their minds.
This is according to the Pew Research Centre, a Washington-based thinktank, which examined migration patterns of sub-Saharan Africans to Europe and the US between 2010 and 2017.
The report, released on Thursday, revealed that one in five, or more, adults in countries including Senegal, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria indicated that they plan to move to another country.
“What’s behind the widespread appeal of migrating in some sub-Saharan countries? Multiple factors could be at play.
“To begin with, while many sub-Saharan African economies are growing, many countries continue to have high unemployment rates and relatively low wage rates.“Against this backdrop, sub-Saharan Africans could see migrating to countries with more and better paying jobs, as a means of improving their personal economic prospects,” the report stated.
Political instability and conflict were other factors that pushed sub-Saharan Africans to move.
In terms of preference, the US is preferred over Europe, although Norway and Switzerland have curried favour with prospective migrants.“Europe’s border statistics show a well-travelled route of migrants from Africa to Europe. But this does not necessarily mean Europe is the top choice of potential sub-Saharan African migrants.”
In several of the countries, surveyed by Pew, those planning “to migrate more often cited the US, as opposed to Europe, as their preferred destination when asked where in the world they planned to move”.“For example, among the 42% of Ghanaians who say they plan to migrate abroad in the next five years, four in 10 identify the US as their intended destination, while three in 10 name a country in the EU, Norway or Switzerland.“
“Similarly, shares of potential migrants in South Africa (39% versus 22%) and Kenya (39% versus 12%) say they intend to migrate to the US over Europe.“The survey did not ask respondents why they preferred the US or Europe, but it did ask whether respondents were in personal contact with friends or relatives in other countries.
It found that people planning to migrate in the next five years tended to identify destinations where they already had friends or family.
The factors pushing people to leave sub-Saharan Africa vary from country to country and individual to individual.
“In the case of Europe, the population of sub-Saharan migrants has been boosted by the influx of nearly a million asylum applicants between 2010 and 2017, according to Eurostat, Europe’s statistical agency.”
Sub-Saharan Africans also moved to European Union countries, Norway and Switzerland as international students and resettled refugees, through family reunification and by other means.
In the US, those fleeing conflict also make up a portion of the more than 400,000 sub-Saharan migrants who moved to the States between 2010 and 2016.