The Social Impact of International Migration in Africa

Cite this article: Chukwuemeka, G. S. (2021). “The Social Impact of International Migration in Africa”. in Sokoto Journal of History Vol. 10. Pp. 27-34.


Gold Sunday

Edwin Clark University, Delta State, Nigeria


Most African people remain victims of migration to developed countries in search of greener pastures and probably good education. This is a serious challenge confronting virtually all classes of people on the Continent of Africa. Solutions of different kinds in some Africa countries like provision of basic amenities, improvement in the economic sector and good welfare packages for citizens were proffered.   Despite these alternatives, the rate of migration continues to increase daily. Most of the migrants see migration to developed countries as an alternative to escape the bad government, insecurity, bad economic policies, hardship and poor education. In the course of the adventures of the migrants to the West, many have died, while others continue to find it difficult to cope with the economic policy of the new country they found themselves. Notwithstanding, international migration particularly as it concerns African people, has led to the exportation of human capital to the west, economic meltdown, neglect of agriculture and other social problems. This paper which adopts an analytical and historical method of research argues that the Africa government should initiate a policy of social and economic reforms that will checkmate the mass exodus of the youth to the West. The work, therefore, suggests that the government of many African nations should avoid maladministration and mismanagement of funds. This is because it contributes immensely to the problem of underdevelopment in Africa.

Keywords: Migration, Social Impact, African countries, Maladministration

DOI: 10.36349/sokotojh.2021.v10i01.004


Migration from
developing countries to developed countries is one of the issues that need to
be addressed by the government of
African nations. Many youth in Africa find it difficult to believe in their nation. This is the reason why we
continue to depend on the West in education and economic empowerment. The success of African people lies in the youth.
The high rate of migration in search of
greener good jobs, free education and a good economy continue to aggravate
Africa's social and economic problems.

According to
ACP Observatory, migration is the movement of people from one area of a country
to another area of the same country
or another country to establish a new residence (ACP Observatory on Migration, 2011). People move from
recognised political boundaries to establish permanent residence either for
political, social or economic reasons.

Some African
people are happy if either their son, daughter or parent are in other countries
like London or the United States of
America. It is believed that such families are in good financial and material condition, especially if a father
sends any of his or her children to study in Europe or South America.
This mentality and orientation are seriously affecting our youth
socially and mentally. There are a
lot of people in Africa that believe that everybody in Europe has a stable
economy and job security. Some classes of people in Africa are better financially and materially than some


persons in
Europe and United States. Many think that the only solution to escape Africa's
social and financial problems is to migrate to other developed

According to O. Adeola Olajide, he notes;

inequality in the society gives credence to the fact that for many, migration
is the window through which they can improve their income, have educational opportunities and improve the prospects of
their future generation. As such people move
both within the country and across international borders with the expectation that they will have access to better
opportunities in the destination location in order to benefit themselves, their immediate families and
communities. The movement from one
part of a country to another for example from a hamlet to a village and later from a village to a town is usually
the start and the characteristic pattern of migrating. One moves to a place considered to be better or to have more opportunities.
Several pushes and pull factors are responsible for this but some factors
could be peculiar to the
individual.  (O. Adeola Olajide,

The African
continent needs proper orientation on the issue that concerns migration on the
negative aspect of it. Many people
persons have died in the sea while others have been imprisoned in some of these developed countries because of
involvement in activities that are inimical to the social and economic
development of such a country.

Africa,    internal migration remains
another form of migration from one city to another. In light of this
Castles notes that when the migration process occurs within the national
boundaries of the country, it is referred
to as internal migration and when it occurs across national borders
or boundaries, it is referred to as international
migration (Castles, 2012).

Many people in Africa Continent are migrating to other places voluntarily, either through educational reasons or involvement in tourist activities. In the light of this John in his discourse
notes as follows;

In essence,
migration can be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary, migration occurs when the decision making is based
either on the individual‘s desire or by the household,
that is, when members collectively desire to send a family member into the migration process. In involuntary
migration, people are forced to migrate against their desire and will to destinations far from their area of
origin or usual place of residence.
Examples of forced or involuntary migration include: socio-economic instability, slavery, human and child
trafficking, environmental shocks. In modern
times and in this era of globalisation, socio-economic factors play significant roles
in human mobility ( John,
Wajim, 2019, 116).

There is
nothing bad if one travels to the West either through scholarship or for other
purposes to enrich the economy of
Africa. It is bad to travel to the West without cogent reasons and genuine purposes. Many African youth are ready to
go through the desert on foot or from one African country to another with the aim of entering Europe. This omen is
very bad because it continues to damage the image of African people.

The Reasons for International Migration
in Africa

migration in Africa has many factors, ranging from the search for a better
economy, good job, security and good
education. Though many migrate as a result of either job appointments or for tourism purposes.

Educational Reasons for Migration: The
standard and academic activities in many
African countries are very poor. Most
of our African youth will not be comfortable with such academic policy and thereby they have to search for
good education in developed countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom and France etc. that have a
good educational system. In Nigeria from
2000 to 2006, the number of students who left Nigeria to study abroad increased
from 10,000 to 22,000 (IOM, 2009).
The outbound mobility ratio, or the number of Nigerian students studying abroad as a percentage of the total
tertiary enrolment in the country, had consistently increased over time, from 14.5 per cent in 2003 to 20.7
per cent in 2006 (UNESCO, 2008). Most
of these African people that are
travelling to the West are using education as the primary reason for
travelling. In a literal sense, the
reason behind the travelling of some of our youth is just to settle in these
developed countries after
graduating from their studies.

The Hope for Job Opportunity: Many people in Africa believe
that there is better Job opportunities
in Europe or the United States of America. There is unemployment virtually in
every country in the world, but it is
very high in African countries and some parts of Asia. Most African people believe that job opportunities are
open for people easily in the developed countries. This remains one of the reasons for the mass exodus from African soil
to other countries. Akinmulegun however argues that unemployment in Nigeria predominantly the graduate unemployment is phenomenally
prominent in the recent decades, the state which is as a result of the sharp increase in the tertiary institution turnout. (Akinmulegun 2014). Notwithstanding,
in Ghana, Togo, Egypt, Sudan and other African countries there is also a high rate of unemployment.

Volatile Nature of Some African Countries: Nobody
likes a volatile environment like the current
situation in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. In some African countries,
insecurity remains one of the reasons why many are migrating to Europe and other continents. Hassan notes that security challenge is them a in problem
threatening the survival of Nigeria because of the increasing reports of the bombing (a trend that was once only
heard it took place elsewhere over the radio, or only watched on television or in fictional
movies by Nigeria),
killing, mass murder,
abduction, kidnapping and other crimes against humanity (Hassan

The Social Impact of International Migration in Africa

There is
numerous positive and negative social impact of International migration in
Africa. Many youths have benefited in
many areas as a result of migration from one country to another, while others continue to suffer the consequences
of migration. Migration has contributed greatly in the life of many African youths, particularly in
the area of education, scholarship programme, exchange of culture and exposure to Western culture.

Education: This remains one of the
reasons why many African youths are travelling to developed countries. There are many people who are medical doctors, engineers, nurses
and historians who studied in some of the European
countries in the course of migration. Some of these people benefited tremendously through the
educational system of the country. Some that were supposed to spend 4 years studying a PhD programme in
their home university succeeded in spending just 3 or two and half years because
of the good educational system present in the country they migrated to.

Education is a factor for international migration particularly at the university level. People migrate
to to study in universities
abroad. Some young people in
developing countries often consider home university
to provide a poor standard of education that will not propel them into good
careers. The expectation of studying in a developed
country has become a key part of some societies
and signals a transition to adulthood along with
qualifications (Ali, 2007). The expectation of international migration structures educational choices,
such as which language to study, and which subjects to take, in order to facilitate later migration (Ali, 2007).

Partaking in Scholarship Scheme: Numerous
African youth have benefitted from the scholarship scheme of some of the developed countries. Countless numbers of
African people have benefitted from
the scholarship scheme of the West. The developed countries have a system of
education that usually give
scholarship to developing countries. Many persons that are teaching in some
African universities benefitted from such a scholarship schemes.

Cultural Influence: Every country has a
unique culture and way of life. The developed countries' culture is different from developing countries. Most persons
that migrated to German to study were influenced
by the culture and lifestyle of Germans.    Migration does not only imply the movement of people but also movement of
cultures(Castles & Miller 2009, 41). Some countries require the migrants
to interact with the new society while
keeping the culture
of the origin country alive
creates a positive environment for the multicultural identity to form
(Guarnizo et al. 2003, Faist & Gerdes 2008). Most people that migrated
from Europe to Africa or from Africa to Europe or other countries have in one way adopted and acclimatized to the culture
of the people they migrated to. Migrantsalso
encounter cultural stun and get into contact with unique lifestyles, increasing
new involvement and learning (OECD, 2012).

Learning of New Language: Migration generally leads to the leaning of new languages. There are a lot of persons that migrated to Arab
nations that learnt how to
speak Arabic. Notwithstanding some
people that travelled to France, Italy and Russia to study were influenced by
this area. As a result of migration
many African people can now speak French, Russian and Latin. Many African students that migrated to China to study
have learnt the Chinese language.   In
recourse to this, one of the students
recounts his experience in this respect that one of the reasons why he studied
abroad was to add another language to his vocabulary.  He quoted
 never in a million years did I think that I‘ll be able to speak another
foreign language
aside from English. So, when I finally learned how
to read, to write and to speak in Swedish,
it gave me such a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment to know that my hard work
has finally paid off. (Top Reasons
Why I Want to Study Abroad, 2022)

It Encourages Intermarriage and Divorce:
Marriage is a union of two persons   between
a man and woman that mutually agreed
to stay together. Numerous African youth have settled with their heartthrob in the course of migration.
Most of the African male youth have settled with a white lady to become a citizen of that country.
This development continues
to occur on many occasions. When people migrate, they will be introduced to new
circumstances, new behaviours and new lifestyles. Some will find it difficult
to manage new development between
family members, especially husbands and wives. Divorce,
separation and abandonment were found to be some of the social effects of migration on the family. Most   families have become a single-parent with
the burden of child care lying
squarely on one parent, and noticeably the children become the victims ( Charity
Mawire, Oliver Mtapuri, Tsion Kidane
and Koyi Mchunu, 2020,117-135)

Many have Become Sex Slaves as a Result of
: Prostitution in this era has taken different forms and patterns. There are many of our young girls
that migrated to some developed countries
with the aim of working in one of their companies but unfortunately, they ended
up becoming sex slaves. Many are paid
to have sex with different animals. The majority of victims are African female folks. In a related
development, Kebede notes that the aspirations of the migrants do not materialize on most occasions but many
are trapped in trafficking, while young women are exploited as sex workers abroad, and in many cases, they have
been promised legitimate work at the destination
but then forced into prostitution upon arrival (Kebede 2001). Most of these migrants who are
girls are abused by either their boss or those that employed

Migration has Contributed to the Death of
Many African People
: There are many people that want to travel to Europe by all means. Many have risked their lives by going through the Mediterranean
sea just to cross Africa to Europe but in the long run, they lost their life.
In a related development, Gumisal
Mutume notes in his article that;

young African men and women risk everything, including their lives, to take on the perilous trip across
dozens of borders and the treacherous waves of
the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life in the North. Some die
along the way, some are turned back
and some who finish the journey realize that life may not be easier across the frontier. But with few jobs and dim
prospects at home, millions of youths and young
adults in Africa still choose to migrate,
often clandestinely (Gumisal
Mutume, 20060.

Many parents
have lost their children in the desert, while many are still hoping that their
children will come back from Europe
one day. Some that migrated to other countries are either facing one economic
issue or the other.

Migration has Contributed to Family
This aspect concerns married people. Many married
women and men that migrated
to developed countries
have ended up separating and divorcing either their
wife or their husband due to long-distance marriage. In this respect, Kahn notes that
temporary circular migration increases the risk of family breakdown,
fragmentation of social networks and
psychosocial stress (Kahn et al. 2003).
The impact is not just limited to the migrants,
but also to the family that was left behind, a particularly poor families that cannot afford to emigrate together, they emigrate one
member at a time resulting in eroded family structures and relationships (Lucas 2005, 268). In a
related development D‘Emilio et al observe that the longer the separation between the migrating parents
and their children, the more children lose their parents‘ reference in the management of the
household, their authority and their role as providers of love and material care. Parents are gradually
replaced by other family members, or the children take upon themselves the task of parenting (D‘Emilio
et al. 2007). The development will create an avenue of feelings of rejection and abandonment.
To some extent, the recent technological advances in terms of e-mail and affordable telephone calls
might allow transnational families to form and foster social ties even at a distance (UNDP 2009, 76).

Increase in Criminal Activities:
The majority of people that migrated to other countries have different motives. Some have genuine
purposes while others have bad motives that include stealing and involvement in criminal activities. Flowing in the same direction Mattes et
al, Danso and McDonald note that
there are also wider security concerns suggesting that migrants would be disproportionately involved in criminal
activity than natives
(Mattes et al. 2000,
Danso & McDonald 2001,
Quirk 2008). Even though data to support such a claim are lacking (Crush & Williams 2002,26). Providing support
mechanisms for youth at risk, and ensuring proper integration of the migrants will be ways to diminish
the risk of violence and manage the development impact of migration.

Has Brought Untold Hardship to Host Nations
: One of the reasons why some countries
are avoiding migrants
is because of the economic
state of such countries. On most occasions, the inability to integrate
the migrants into the mainstream of her economy has led to hardship and suffering of various types. If the host country‘s economy is under
pressure, it might lead to expulsions
of migrants. For example, Nigeria expelled over 2 million immigrants
mainly from Ghana in 1983 due to a
domestic economic crisis, for which the aliens became scapegoats (Lassailly-Jacob et al. 2006). The United
States deported more than 350,000 immigrants and South Africa 300,000 in 2008 alone (UNDP 2009, 99). The case of Cote
d‘Ivoire, where striping of immigrants
of some of their rights sparked chaos that has led the once stable country to
the verge of an internal conflict,
illustrates the growing intolerance of foreigners in the South (Adepoju 2003, UNDP 2009). The reasons for deportation
and expulsion of migrants are mainly to salvage the economy of such a country. For instance, if everybody migrates
to the United States, it will affect her economy in many dimensions.

It leads to the Loss of Human Resources:
Some talented and highly gifted people in Africa and Asia migrated to developed countries. Most of these people continue
to contribute to the technological development of some
developed countries like the United Kingdom, the United States of America and some European countries.
The emigration of the highly skilled can be particularly important in the education and health sectors in small countries
that face severe shortages of health workers
(Docquier et al. 2010). However, the
migration of professionals like doctors, engineers and legal practitioners may result in underemployment in the country
in question. In another development discussions around the
problems of ‗brain gain‘, ‗brain circulation and ‗brain waste‘ are central in the debates about migration
not only out of Africa but also within the continent (Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues, 2020, 12) Brain drain from Africa to the OECD countries is ‗one of the
highest in the world‘ (Lucas, 2015,  1503).


migration has numerous challenges in Africa particularly as it concerns the
youth. It poses a serious risk like sexual abuse, political persecution,
infringement of human rights, racism, discrimination
and loss of lives to many of our youth. Some have died inside the refugee camp
and inside the sea. Most of these
victims' parents do not know their whereabouts, rather many are hoping that one day their children will
come back home with many material blessings. Africa government needs to contribute her quota on improving the
standard of living and her education. This
will reduce migration to an extent. More so, our youth that is travelling in
search of a better education should
be given proper orientation on the need to be patriotic about Africa. Many of
us in Africa do not cherish anything
that belongs to us. We have serious hatred for our schools, locally manufactured goods and our tribes,
particularly in West Africa.

African governments need to start proper reforms
in the area of education, economy and administration. This will seriously
checkmate the high rate of the mass
exodus of our youth to the developed countries in search of a better life, good education and security.


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