Territorial disputes: Africa (Part 7) [Post 142]

Territorial conflicts and people in Africa: migration

Migration in Africa no matter its cause has an important impact on population dynamics (African Union, 2010). Data from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs shows that migrants from Africa are younger (on average at 29 years) compared to migrants from other regions of the world; they are younger by an average of 10 years compared to the global average of 39 years.

Africa as a whole currently suffers a net loss in its population due to migration. Although some of the regional losses are a result of within continent migration, notably to southern Africa, a larger portion of the net migration are moving as undocumented migrants moving to seek better opportunities in Europe and other places outside of Africa. 

Within the continent, migration has had its negative social consequences. In 2015, there was widespread xenophobic related violence in South Africa. The continent can expect to see an increase in xenophobia as migrants move into new areas and compete with locals for the ever-shrinking job opportunities.

In 2015 alone, Africa accounted for about 14% (or 34 million) of people who moved across borders to live in new territories. A majority (70%) of these moved to a higher income country. Furthermore, over half (52%) of Africa’s 34 million migrants moved within Africa, 27% to Europe, 12% to Asia, 7% to North America and 2% to Oceania (UNDESA, 2016).

Beyond the continent, there is a rise in Eurocentric behaviours which would affect relations between the African migrants and their host nations. 

Regional integration processes based on the movement of (human) capital demand much more than the mere harmonisation of policies that interlink trade, investment, transport and movement of persons; they need to aim at optimising regional labour markets as well as ensuring the maximum benefits of the migration process for the African youth. 

Addressing the mismatch between skills and labour market needs in Africa during the next decades will be crucial to reaping the demographic dividend.

Many analyses on migration tend to overlook gender dimensions, especially as it pertains to adolescent and young women, yet they too are an important part of the migration phenomenon. 

Studies estimate that young women make about half of all migrants in their age group in Africa and constitute about five percent of the total global migrant population. More worryingly, a larger segment of trafficked women are used for sexual exploitation and in forced labour, in which case their rights are routinely violated (United Nations, 2014).

State of Africa’s Population 2017 (African Union) Link to the complete document


This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (Routledge 2020).Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.


Territorial conflicts and people in Africa: forced migration.

Tuesday 13th October 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World


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