Africans migrating from the continent make up a much smaller share of the global migrant population than is commonly reported and should be viewed as a positive phenomenon, not a threat.
Those were the opening remarks of Sudanese philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, speaking at a weekend conference hosted by Ibrahim’s foundation in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Citing statistics, he rebutted anti-migration politicians who say Africans have inundated Europe.
“Europe is not being flooded by Africans,” Ibrahim declared, noting that 70% of African migrants relocate within Africa.
“Migration is healthy, it’s not a disease,” he maintained. “Migration is about aspirations, not desperation. People who migrate are mostly capable, ambitious young people who are migrating to work and build successful lives. They add wealth to the countries they go to,” he said.
Other misperceptions were noted by Mr. Ibrahim. “Despite popular belief, in almost 30 years, the scale of the global migrant population has increased only marginally, from 2.9% of the global population in 1990 to 3.4% in 2017,” he noted. “Migration patterns may have changed, but they have not significantly increased.
“African migrants account for only 14% of the global migrant population: significantly less than migrants from Asia, which account for 41%, or Europe, which account for 24%. In fact, in 2017, the top ten migration flows from Africa accounted for less than the single migration flow from Mexico to the U.S.
“As world leaders recognized in the first-ever United Nations Global Compact on Migration in December 2018, migration, is a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world.”
Data shows that migrants support GDP growth in destination countries and are valuable, often indispensable parts of the workforce. Their economic contribution is considerable. Migrants’ contribution to GDP is estimated at 19% in Côte d’Ivoire, 13% in Rwanda and 9% in South Africa.
Ibrahim is a Sudanese-born businessman who founded Celtel, a mobile phone network across Africa. He was speaking on the occasion of the Ibrahim Governance Weekend, the flagship event of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, held every year in a different African country.
This year, attendees will celebrate the life of Kofi Annan, a Nobel Peace Prizewinner and former Secretary-General of the U.N.
Speeches by Ibrahim, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, singer Bono and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf paid tribute to Annan’s achievements and legacy. The ceremony also featured music from Congolese singer-songwriter Fally Ipupa.