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African Migration Trends to Watch in 2022

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The push-pull forces driving African migration continue to intensify, portending expanding African migration within and off the continent in 2022.

African Migration Trends Continue to Escalate

The number of documented migrants within and from the African region has nearly doubled since 2010, continuing a two-decade trend of expansion.

  • African migration is being driven by a varied combination of push-pull factors for each country. The primary push factors are conflict, repressive governance, and limited economic opportunities. Nine of the top 15 African countries of origin for migrants are in conflict.

  • North Africans make up the majority of African immigrants to Europe. The top three—Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia—comprise over 5 million of the 11 million African migrants in Europe. This underscores the importance of proximity, established diasporas, and economic opportunity as key “pull” factors influencing migration decision making.

  • Surveys of African migrants in or heading toward Europe reveal that the majority were either employed or in school at the time of their departure. Yet, they felt despair over their economic prospects. Tunisians fleeing economic pressures, for example, comprised more than a quarter of the irregular migrants intercepted crossing the Mediterranean to Italy in 2021.

  • Migrants tend to have resources at hand—either in the form of jobs or from familial networks of support—especially when family members are already in another country.

Most African Migration Remains Intraregional

  • Most African migration remains on the continent, continuing a long-established pattern. Around 21 million documented Africans live in another African country, a figure that is likely an undercount given that many African countries do not track migration. Urban areas in Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt are the main destinations for this inter-African migration, reflecting the relative economic dynamism of these locales.

  • Among African migrants who have moved off the continent—some 11 million live in Europe, almost 5 million in the Middle East, and more than 3 million in Northern America.