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Analyzing intra-regional migration in Sub-Saharan Africa

Statistical data constraints and the role for regional organizations

Stefano Degli Uberti, Philippe De Lombaerde, Sonja Nita and Elettra Legovini

Africa has long been described as an immensely mobile continent and continues to be viewed in this vein (Amin, 1995; de Bruij n et al., 2001; IOM, 2005). The 2005 World Migration Report describes Africa as “the continent with the most mobile populations in the world” (IOM, 2005, p. 33). In Western Africa, for instance, almost 4.4 million migrants moved in 2005 to another country of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) (World Bank, 2010). Compared to the overall international migrants in Western Africa (UNDP, 2009), South-South (S-S) migration accounted for more than 50% in 2005 (ACP, 2010, p. 5; Bakewell, 2009). The volume of intra-regional migrations in Africa seems to be inversely proportional to the availability of statistical data. The shortage of both quantitative and qualitative data on migration (Gnisci & Trémolières, 2006, p. 10; OECD/SWAC, 2006, p. 18; Ratha & Shaw, 2007; Zlotnik, 2003, p. 2) and timely information on population movements, whether internal or international, is a major obstacle to the understanding of migration dynamics in Africa. Nineteen of the 56 countries on the African continent have either no data or just one census providing any information on migrant stocks from the 1950s (Zlotnik, 2003).