Libmonster ID: BY-2240


Doctor of Economics


Doctor of Economics

Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

population Keywords:, cross-border migrationArab revolutionslabor resourcesEuropean UnionAfricamigration policy

The wave of revolution in North Africa and the Middle East has changed the nature and trajectory of many global processes, 1 including the volume, nature and direction of cross-border migration. Today, residents of European countries are extremely concerned about the prospect of an uncontrolled influx of refugees from countries affected by revolutionary events. Appearance of 25k users. Tunisians on the Italian island of Lampedusa was not only a disaster for local residents, but also served as a reason for a possible revision of the Schengen agreements.

Colonel Gaddafi (now deceased) also added fuel to the fire, scaring Europeans with the prospect of an influx of hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants from West and East Africa if he left the post of head of state. Indeed, over the past two decades, it was Libya, which he led, that played the role of the main migration buffer between Europe and Subtropical Africa, regulating and absorbing a significant part of African migrants. And the answers to the questions of where more than 2 million Arab and African migrants from Libya will go, how events in the Arab region will affect cross-border African migration in general, how the migration policy of EU countries and African states themselves will change, occupy the minds of not only politicians and businessmen, but also scientists.

For an objective assessment of the prospects and direction of migration flows from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, it is necessary, in our opinion, to analyze not only the current situation in the region, but also to consider the prerequisites, as well as the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of African cross-border migration.


International labor migration is one of the key concepts in the modern era of globalization. The movement of labor between countries, driven by structural shifts in the economy and investment flows, links national labor markets into a single market, complementing the movement of goods and services within the new common economic space. The development of globalization processes constantly increases migration flows.

According to the UN, by 2010, the total number of international migrants, i.e. people living outside their countries of origin, exceeded 200 million, more than doubling in the last 30 years, and equating to about 3% of the world's population. Modern Africa is one of the most active migration regions. In 2010, the total number of African emigrants was 34 million, or 3.7% of the population of the African continent.2

As far as the Arabs are concerned, they are beyond the pale.-

page 10

Today, about 20 million people live outside their countries of origin3. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen are the traditional "suppliers" of migrants to neighboring oil and gas producing Arab states, as well as to Europe and America. The share of migrants in their population ranges from 5 to 20%. It is significant that the proportion of Tunisians aged 18-25 who want to emigrate increased from 22% in 1996 to 76% in 2005.4 This, in our opinion, indirectly indicates an increase in dissatisfaction with their existence among Tunisian youth on the eve of the revolutionary events.

According to UN statistics, 60% of all migrants are concentrated in developed countries, while the remaining 40% move along the "South-South" line, i.e. from one developing country to another. 49 million of them. Today they live in Asia, 16 million in Africa, and 6 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.5 In the next 10 to 15 years, migration from developing countries, including from African countries, will increase, due to a number of factors.

First of all, the growth of migration flows along the South-North line is associated with the process of population aging in developed countries, which coincides with the rapid growth of the number of inhabitants in developing countries. The average annual demographic growth rate in the latter countries was 1.6% in 2000-2010, i.e. it was 5.3 times higher than in developed countries. It is developing countries that currently account for 95% of the world's population growth, and in the next 25 years their contribution will reach 100%. At the same time, the population growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa today is significantly higher than in other developing countries, at about 2.5% per year. Today, there are an average of 5-6 children per African woman of childbearing age, compared to 1-2 in Europe. UN experts estimate that Africa's population will increase from 1 billion in 2000 to 1.4 billion in 2025 and 2 billion in 2050.6 In North Africa, the population growth rate over the past 10 years has been significantly lower than in sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from 1% in Tunisia to 1.9% in Egypt. However, the peak birth rate in these countries was observed in the 1980s, and today the largest segment of the population in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Algeria is young people aged 20-25 years.7


According to the World Bank (WB), the global labor market increased from $ 3 billion to $ 4 billion. people in 2004 to 3.4 billion by 2010. At the same time, the indigenous working-age population is projected to decline in the next 40 years in most developed countries, primarily in Europe. Thus, the annual growth of the labor force will amount to 40 million people, with 38 million of this increase will be provided by developing countries and only 2 million by developed ones. To compensate for the shortage of workers, developed countries will attract migrants from developing countries, including African ones.8

At the same time, the implementation of economic liberalization and structural adjustment programs recommended by the IMF and the World Bank to African states has not led to an increase in employment in these countries. On the contrary, opportunities for the African population-

page 11

Their ability to find a job in their home country has declined over the past 10 years. All of this has resulted in a 32 million increase in the number of workers earning less than $1 a day in sub-Saharan Africa between 1994 and 2010 alone.9 A real social scourge was mass unemployment, including among young people, who joined and continue to join the ranks of migrants. According to UN experts, the number of jobs created in African countries in the last 5 years covers only 30 to 40% of the influx of new labor resources. Today, according to unofficial data, unemployment has reached 20-25% of the amateur population of these countries, while the youth unemployment rate in North Africa has reached almost 50%10. In these circumstances, emigration is often seen as the only means of escape from poverty.

But the main cause of South-North labor migration continues to be income inequality in developed and developing countries. In 1975, the average per capita income in high-income countries was 40 times higher than in Africa, and today the gap is even wider. 11 Therefore, many Africans see emigration as the only way to improve their living conditions. Migrants ' remittances to their home countries often become not only the most important additional (and sometimes the main) source of regular income for their families, but also foreign exchange earnings for the State of origin as a whole. International organizations and financial institutions consider cross-border migrant transfers to be an important factor in the development and financial stability of a number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. According to the IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), the volume of money transfers to African countries exceeded in 2010. $40 billion. Most of the money went to the North African region - 45.6% of all transfers. In second place are the countries of West Africa - 27%, followed by the countries of East Africa-15.3%, Central Africa-6.9%, and the South African region-5.1% 12.

It should be noted right away that the North African states received money mainly from outside the continent - from the European Union, the United States and the Arabian Peninsula. The exceptions to this flow were cash transfers from Libya to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as from Egypt to Sudan, but their share in total transfers was relatively small. With regard to West Africa, close socio-cultural ties facilitate the movement of labor between countries in this sub-region, so more than two-thirds of transfers there come from intraregional flows: money from Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria went to Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon and other West African States. In the South African region, money was transferred from South Africa and Botswana, which actively attract migrant workers from neighboring countries, as well as from Europe and North America. In other countries of the African continent, transfers were received both from African countries and from other continents.

Entrepreneurs in developed countries are very interested in using the labor of immigrants. This is primarily due to the desire to reduce production costs (in particular, labor costs), as well as the need to attract labor during the period of production growth and the shortage of workers in production areas associated with difficult or unfavorable working conditions. After all, in the era of economic globalization, cost reduction is the most important condition for winning the competition in the domestic and foreign markets.

Today, in the EU countries, where the main migration flows from African countries are directed, the cost of indigenous labor in terms of one hour of work is approximately 20-30% higher than that of their main competitors (the United States and Japan), and 2-3 times higher than that of the industrialized countries of Southeast Asia (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea)13. This situation is painful for European countries, as their economies are heavily oriented towards foreign markets. Therefore, many Western European countries are now trying to attract immigrants, including Africans, to work in export sectors of the economy.

In recent years, infrastructural factors, such as the development of modern modes of transport, have become increasingly important, which greatly simplifies and reduces the cost of moving to the "centers of well-being" from the remote poor hinterland. The importance of the information revolution is also growing, as people in Africa learn about the gap in living standards between the "golden billion" and poor countries and its true extent. Under the influence of the rapid development of mass media, such knowledge reaches the most remote and impoverished corners of the world, including on the African continent.

Another reason for the increase in migration flows from Africa is the backward structure of employment in a number of States.-

page 12

a gift from the continent. More than half of the working-age population is employed in small-scale, low-yielding agriculture, which is experiencing competition from the modern and state-subsidized agricultural sector of developed countries. Millions of peasant families in Africa go broke every year and join the ranks of domestic (village-city), regional and international migrants .14


The unstable military and political situation in many African countries also increases the scale of both internal and external migration. After 45 years of independence, which was granted to most African countries, the "Black Continent" is still a zone of continuous crises. Every year, 20 to 80 armed conflicts are registered around the world, and 10 to 30 of them occur on the African continent. In 2010, one in four African countries was affected by conflict. Armed conflicts cause enormous damage to the States involved in them; their consequences are the collapse of the economy, increasing poverty of the population. Today, the world community is witnessing the disintegration of the institution of the State in a number of African countries. At the same time, restoring the effectiveness of state institutions in each individual African country is quite problematic, since most of them did not have a coherent system of public administration at all in the past, and many did not even have the basics of statehood. Conflicts and crises in Africa are leading to an increase in refugee flows. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, published in 2010., about 15 million - half of the 30 million. Displaced persons - accounted for 15 in Africa.

The high migration mobility of the African population is characteristic not only of recent times. It is traditional: many of the current migration patterns and trends were formed long before the political liberation of the African colonies. The boundaries between the latter were established by officials of the colonial powers, mostly without taking into account traditional economic, ethnic and cultural factors that determined the diverse (including migration) ties of the local population. Such borders did not stop the action of these factors either in the colonial past or in the post-colonial period. In many cases, they are simply ignored by the population of border areas. Hence, the differences between internal (intra-country) and external (cross-border) migration, as well as between legal and illegal (i.e. undocumented) migrants are blurred and unclear .16

Migration processes in Africa, as in other regions, primarily involve economic or labor migration - the movement of labor for economic reasons between the countryside and the city within the same country, between different countries within the same sub - region or - less often - the entire continent, and finally beyond its borders.


If we talk about intercontinental migration, the bulk of African migrants go to Western Europe-France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Great Britain, as well as to the United States and the Persian Gulf states. The latter were the main center of attraction for migrants from North Africa after the so-called oil boom of the 1970s. However, by the early 1990s, the direction of migration flows from North African countries changed again. First of all, this was due to the Iraqi-Kuwaiti conflict and the sharp deterioration of the situation in Iraq.-

page 13

Table 1

Socio-professional composition of African migrants before emigration (%)

Unemployed people


Students, including students






Technicians and mechanics




Doctors and nurses




Vehicle drivers


Other (military, civil servants, farmers, agricultural workers, etc.)


Source: calculated by us from the following data

The economic situation in Iraq worsened, with more than 1 million Arab emigrants leaving the country after Operation Desert Storm. At the same time, there was a sharp drop in oil prices, which forced the governments of the Persian Gulf countries to prefer significantly cheaper labor from South and Southeast Asia to Arab specialists. Under these circumstances, Western Europe has once again become attractive to North African migrants.

The division of African immigration between host countries is largely determined by historical (the colonial affiliation of the country of emigration to a particular metropolis) and closely related linguistic factors. So, in Tropical and North Africa, French-speaking countries - former colonies of France - as exporters of migrants to the former metropolis are an order of magnitude superior to English-speaking ones. The ratio of English - and French - speaking countries as sources of migration to the UK is approximately the same, but with an inverse advantage. Immigrants from former Portuguese colonies in Africa make up the majority of immigrants in Portugal.

Having arrived in a foreign country, an immigrant in most cases is forced to accept the job that is offered and which does not always correspond to his specialty and qualifications. At the same time, it is essential where the immigrant arrives: in a developed Western European country or in the Arabian monarchy.

Most often, the lot of immigrants in developed countries remains unskilled or low-skilled work. The host countries do not seek, nor are they interested in, improving their skills. Most Africans are employed in manufacturing, as well as in trade and service. In Europe, however, there has been a slight shift in the traditional employment structure of immigrants from Africa in recent years. The share of Africans working in the service sector is increasing; at the same time, their share in the steel industry, metalworking, and automotive industries is decreasing (see fig.

The main stream of Afro-European migration goes to France and (partly) further north. At the same time, the role of Spain and Italy, both transit and receiving countries, which in the recent past were themselves suppliers of labor, is growing.

Table 2

Type of professional activity of African migrants in OECD countries* (%)

Lawyers, doctors, senior officials, managers


Highly qualified specialists and engineers




Minor employees


Service sector workers and merchants


Movers and merchants


Highly qualified workers in enterprises


Highly qualified agricultural workers and fishermen




Unskilled workers




Unemployed people




* OECD-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


page 14

forces to richer European countries. France is home to about 97% of Algerian, 68% Tunisian, and 47% Moroccan immigrants, 17 as well as most immigrants from Senegal, Congo (Brazzaville), Mali, Mauritius, Cameroon, and other French-speaking countries. Moroccans also settle in Holland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Germany; Tunisians - in Germany and Italy. The UK accounts for only a relatively modest portion of the migration movement.

Among the major North African labor exporters is Egypt, which is experiencing a chronic gap between the growth of the working-age population and the creation of new jobs. The ILO estimates that the number of Egyptian migrants reached 3.5 million in 2008.18 Most of them worked in Libya and Saudi Arabia; however, the proportion of migrants going to Europe for work has steadily increased.


Migrants are most often able-bodied, mostly young - up to 35 years - men of various professional and qualification levels-from illiterate to specialists with higher education. Immigrants from North African countries are distributed according to their educational level as follows: illiterate make up 27%, with primary education - 32%, with incomplete secondary and vocational education - 24%, with full secondary and higher education - 17% of their total 19.

As for the countries of West Africa that are geographically located further from the EU, the same indicators are somewhat different: illiterate people make up only 19% of migrants, people with primary, incomplete secondary and vocational education-24%, with full secondary education-26.6% and with incomplete higher and higher education-30.4% of the total number of immigrants 20. Thus, labor migrants from West Africa have a fairly high level of education not only in comparison with their compatriots, but also in comparison with Europeans.

Table 1 provides an overview of the professional composition of migrants.

As can be seen from table 1, before moving, most migrants had fairly high professional skills, but their work was not properly applied in their countries, or did not provide sufficient "material returns". Thus, the category of unemployed, which accounts for almost a quarter of all African migrants, mainly includes young people with secondary or higher education who have not found a decent job in their homeland.

For data on how the professional status of migrants changes after moving, see table 2.

Please note that this table contains data only on officially registered unemployed persons listed on the labor exchange and receiving benefits. This significantly distorts the overall picture of African migration, as a significant number of people from the African continent are illegal immigrants and either employed in the informal economy or remain unregistered unemployed.

At the same time, it is interesting that a significant part of Africans - about half - are engaged in highly qualified work in industry, agriculture and the service sector, and 20% of immigrants from Africa are generally specialists of the highest category. At the same time, from a formal point of view, the unemployment rate among migrants after moving is relatively low. In other words, African migrants who found employment after moving to some "official" sector of the economy, as a rule, retained or in some cases even improved their professional positions.

The general rise in the educational level of Africans is one of the important factors that accelerate the involvement of the population in migration flows. The rapid growth of the school and university education network increases the level of literacy and awareness of the population and increases the social activity and mobility of residents of the country of birth and permanent residence. A high level of education allows you to find a decent and highly paid job both within your state and abroad, and thereby increase your social status.

Based on our calculations based on the analysis of migration flows from the countries of North and West Africa, we can conclude that the educational level of migrants there is significantly higher than that of other Africans. Thus, 47% of Africans moving from villages to cities, 58% of migrants within the African continent and more than 75% of migrants leaving Africa are now literate. The gap is even larger in secondary and higher education. Today, 29% of all Africans traveling abroad have completed secondary education, while 24% have incomplete higher education and completed higher education.21

The educational level of African migrants who have found a job is even higher

page 15

Chart. The share of women in the migration flow from North Africa and the Middle East (1975-2005).

Source: World Bank data -

in the OECD countries. Thus, the share of people with secondary education among employed migrants from Africa is 32%, and with higher and incomplete higher education-33%. At the same time, the level of education of working African women is higher than that of men, although the difference is not very large 22.

A very different picture emerges for African migrants who have joined the ranks of the unemployed. While the proportion of African residents with secondary education who have not found a job is 30.5% (including 29.1% for men and 32.4% for women), the share of unemployed holders of higher and incomplete higher education from African countries is only 16.9% (including 17.6% for men and 15.9% for women).% - for women). This is about 2 times less than that of employed Africans with university degrees 23. In other words, all other things being equal, higher education significantly increases the chances of migrants finding work.


There is a close relationship between the educational and qualification level and the purpose of the migrant, which in turn determines the distance of his movement. If the ultimate dream of the illiterate rural poor is usually a more or less stable urban income in their country, then a university graduate naturally seeks to find a job that is adequate to their education. If this is not possible at home, it is sent abroad, preferably to an economically developed part of the world. The brain drain from Africa to Western Europe and even North America increased as the number of professionals with higher education did not find work in their own countries.

According to UNCTAD estimates, the average annual number of highly skilled migrants leaving Africa in 1960 - 1974 was 1.8 thousand, in 1975 - 1984 - 4.4 thousand, in 1985 - 1987 - 23 thousand, in 1990 - 1995 - 28 thousand, and in 1996 - 2010 - more than 35 thousand. World Bank experts estimate that between 1960 and 2010, about one million specialists of various profiles emigrated from Africa - 30% of all highly skilled workers.24 Although the share of highly qualified personnel in the total sub-Saharan labour force does not exceed 4%, they account for more than 40% of migrants.

The migration rate of highly skilled workers in five African countries exceeds 50%: Cape Verde-67.5%, Gambia-63.3%, Seychelles - 55.9%, Mauritius-56.2% and Sierra Leone-52.5%25. On the west and east coasts of Africa, highly skilled migration is very high - more than 30% - in Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, Angola and Somalia.

According to the UN, between 2000 and 2004 alone, 16,000 nurses moved from Africa to the UK. Of the 600 doctors trained in Zambia, only 50 practice in their home country, and only in the English city of Manchester alone there are more doctors from Malawi than in this country 26. This is not surprising, since in the UK they receive 30 to 40 times more than at home.

On average, one in 4 doctors and one in 20 nurses trained in Africa work in OECD countries. Some African countries are experiencing enormous difficulties in moving qualified health workers to other countries. For example, 29% of Ghanaian doctors and 34% of Zimbabwean nurses work abroad.27

In Tunisia, 70 thousand young people annually receive a high-quality education in Europe.-

page 16

to the Russian (more precisely, French) standard. And most graduates of local universities prefer to emigrate to the West for modestly paid jobs.28

The departure of highly qualified specialists is a serious problem for most African countries. Today, they are essentially additionally subsidizing the development of already rich Western countries, saving them from some of the costs of training national personnel. Given the increasing scale of brain drain from African countries and the negative consequences of this process for these States, countries that "receive" ready-made personnel from Africa should probably cooperate with countries that send "highly qualified migrants" in order to find some optimal solution to this difficult problem.

An important structural component of African migration is the departure of young people to study in other countries. In this case, the desire to get a good education is an important socio-psychological factor of migration. Based on the results of field studies conducted by the authors of this paper in Egypt, Morocco, Italy, Germany, Spain and Malta in 2006-2010, about a quarter of African migrants aged 20-25 years identified the desire to continue their studies abroad as the main reason for moving.

According to UNESCO, students from sub - Saharan Africa are the most mobile in the world, with one in 16 African students from the region receiving higher education abroad.29

The main stream of African students goes to Europe and other developed countries. The leader in this list is France (36.3% of all African students), followed by the United States (12.5%), the United Kingdom (8.5%) and Germany (7.4%). South Africa is an attractive country in terms of getting an education: more than 12% of all Africans studying abroad study here.

Another feature of African migration in the last 10 years is its feminization. In the past, it was almost exclusively men who left home in search of work; today, more and more women are leaving on their own, seeking economic independence. Today, they represent approximately 40% of the total number of African migrant workers, and in some countries their share in the total number of migrant workers exceeds 50%.30 As an illustration, the chart shows the dynamics of female migration from the Middle East and North Africa.

In general, intercontinental labor migration from African countries has become an integral feature and an important structural component of the global labor market. The scale of this migration, although temporarily limited by the global financial and economic crisis of 2007-2010, will constantly increase in the coming years, and the qualitative composition of migrants will change depending on the economic needs of receiving and sending countries. At the same time, the consequences of this migration will be ambiguous both in socio-economic, political and cultural terms, as well as for both donor and recipient countries.

(The ending follows)

1 See, for example: Vasiliev A.M. Tsunami of Revolutions / / Asia and Africa Today. 2011, N 3; Fituni L. L. The Middle East: Technologies of protest potential management / / Asia and Africa Today. 2012, N 12.


3 Human Development Report 2009. U. N. 2010. P. 6.


5 Ibid. P. 7.


7. Abramova I. O. Developing countries in the world economy of the XXI century: New demographic determinants / / Asia and Africa Today. 2011, N 6.


9 Africa Renewal. United Nations Department of Public Information. N. Y. Vol. 24, No. 4, January 2011. P. 16.


11 Global Economic Prospects. Economic Implications of Remittances and Migration. The World Bank. Wash., 2006, P. 6.

12 Calculated by us based on:

Stalker P. 13 Workers without frontiers: The impact of globalization on international migration. N. Y., 2000. P. 59.

Abramova I. O. 14 African migration: a regional issue or a global problem? // Problems of the modern economy. 2007, N 4.

15 Human Rights Watch World Report. 2010. Africa: overview -

Potemkin Yu. V. 16 Migratsii v Afrikii [Migration Problems in Africa], Strany Afrika 2002, Moscow, 2002, pp. 60-62.

C. de Wenden. 17 L'immigration en Europe. P., 1999. P. 32.


19 According to the seventh ILO Regional Meeting for Europe (Budapest, 14-18 February 2005).

20 Regional Challenges of West African Migration. African and European Perspectieves. OECD. 2009, P. 107.


22 Calculated by us on:

23 Calculated from previous data.


25 Global Economic Prospects... P. 91.

26 Ibid. P. 97.

27 Ibid. P. 78.

Fituni L. L. 28 "Arab Spring": transformation of political paradigms in the context of international relations / / World Economy and International Relations. 2012, N 1. P. 10.


30 The research was carried out under grant No. 06 - 02 - 0283a " South-North migration flows: lessons for Russia". A total of 308 men and 124 women in the age group from 20 to 55 years were interviewed. Countries of origin: Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana.


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