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The most common destination for African migrants is neither Europe nor North America

By Yomi Kazeem

There is even more evidence that African immigrants are more likely to move elsewhere within the continent than outside it.

While migration to Europe through life-threatening trips across the Sahara desert and Mediterranean Sea as well to North America through immigration programs and asylum requests have dominated headlines, there are more Africans likely to emigrate to another African country.

A new Afrobarometer survey of respondents in 34 African countries shows that 36% of Africans are more likely to move to another country within the continent. The trend noted in the report is also backed by reality as only 20% of African migrants who decide to emigrate from their countries actually leave the continent, according to the African Union. For example, many more people move from the Horn of Africa to southern Africa than those crossing the Sahara to north Africa to reach Europe.

The destination preferences also vary by region, the report shows. While a majority of west and north Africans prefer to move to Europe, intending immigrants in central, east and southern African largely prefer to move to another African country, specifically one within their regions.

But regardless of preferred destinations, the appetite for emigration across the continent—especially among young, educated Africans—remains very high. “On average, more than half (51%) of all respondents with post-secondary educational qualifications say they have given at least ‘a little’ consideration to emigrating, including one in four (24%) who have considered it “a lot,” the report states.

That desire is also reflected in a recent Pew Research Center report which claims nearly half of adults in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, plan to move to another country within the next five years—the highest rate among 12 countries surveyed across four continents.

Crucially, as Afrobarometer’s report shows, 47% of respondents aged between 18 and 25 have considered moving elsewhere—the most of any age group. The trend is a consequence of unabating local unemployment which respondents cited as the leading reason for looking to emigrate.

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