Africa’s Potential Migrants are Young Adults and Highly Educated Citizens

David Indeje is Khusoko’s Digital Editor, covering East African markets.
Africa’s Potential Migrants are Young Adults and Highly Educated Citizens

From Left: International Organisation for Migartion Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa Jeffrey Labovitz, Afrobarometer Executive Director Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi and EU Kenya Head of Governance Vincent de Boer during the release of data migration trends in Africa. I Photo Daisy Moraa.

Afrobarometer, a pan-African, non-partisan research network finds that Africa’s young adults and highly educated citizens are most likely to consider leaving their country.

“On average, more than half (51%) of all respondents with postsecondary educational qualifications say they have given at least “a little” consideration to emigrating, including one in four (24%) who have considered it “a lot.” By comparison, potential emigrants make up 43% and 29% of respondents with secondary and primary schooling, respectively, and 24% of those with no formal education.”


Afrobarometer’s latest findings in the Pan-Africa Profiles report on migration relies on data from 45,823 interviews completed in 34 countries between September 2016 and September 2018.

What is the trend

“The most popular destination among potential emigrants is neither Europe nor  North America, but another African country. This suggests that if you can have a country near you that is thriving economically, then you better move there so, Europe should now start considering how to boost Africa economic growth because clearly, they may not have a lot of desire to go to Europe,” Afrobarometer Executive Director Hyimah Boadi said.

Among potential emigrants, more than one-third would like to move to another country within their region (29%) or elsewhere in Africa (7%).

This preference for staying on the continent is especially strong in Southern Africa (58%) and weakest in North Africa (8%).

Europe (27%) and North America (22%) are the most preferred destinations outside of Africa.

In almost all countries, by far the most frequently cited reasons for emigrating are to look for work (44% on average) and to escape poverty and economic hardship (29%).

However, “While we see a mix of both “push” and “pull” factors in the reasons that people cite for considering emigration, the youthful, educated profile of the pool of potential emigrants suggests that the pull of opportunity is the key factor here, rather than the push of poverty.”

Why do people want to leave?

“Looking for work” and “escaping poverty and economic hardship” were the biggest factors for wanting to emigrate in almost all of the 34 countries surveyed, accounting for 44% and 29% respectively.

How easy is it to move across borders

A majority of Africans favour free cross-border movement within their region. But they also say that crossing borders is difficult.

In Afrobarometer’s Round 6 survey (2014/2015), 56% of respondents across 36 African countries said they “agree” or “agree very strongly” that people should be able to move freely across borders in order to work or trade in other countries in the region.


“While a majority of Africans want free cross-border movement, the same proportion (56%) say that in fact it is “difficult” or “very difficult” to cross international borders in their region in order to work or trade. In the Round 7 survey, only two in 10 (22%) say cross-border movement is “easy” or “very easy.”

David Indeje is Khusoko’s Digital Editor, covering East African markets.

In my role as Community Engagement Editor For Khusoko, I care about our audience. engaging them, getting news delivered to them across a variety of platforms, and expanding the diversity of voices on our website.

Leave a comment
scroll to top