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Immigration in Africa - statistics & facts

African immigration is mostly characterized by movements within the continent itself. More than half of African migrants migrate across African countries, while around one of every four migrants has Europe as a destination region. Among the macro-regions, Eastern and Western Africa host the largest number of migrants, with almost 60 percent of all international migrants in Africa. However, as of 2020, South Africa and Côte d'Ivoire were hosting the highest number of immigrants among all African countries. In relation to the population, South Sudan and Burundi have the highest positive net migration rate. In Africa, only nine countries have a positive migration rate. This indicates that the number of international migrants coming to these nine countries is higher than that of people leaving.

Population of concern

About 40 percent of the global population of concern lives in Africa. In 2019, this amounted to 33 million people, including refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returned refugees, and stateless people. Refugees and internally displaced persons represent the largest part of the population of concern. Africa has the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world. These are forced to leave their house, but remain within their country's borders. Poverty, political instability, wars, and terrorism are some of the causes that push people to seek shelter and asylum in another country. The majority of refugees in Africa are found in the Horn of Africa and the East region. The countries hosting the largest number of refugees are Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The majority of asylum seekers live in South Africa, Zambia, and Egypt. Refugees have their protection status recognized due to human rights violations and persecution in their country of origin, and they have a right to international protection. An asylum seeker, on the other hand, is seeking protection, but has not yet been legally recognized as a refugee.

Migration routes: life-threatening sea escapes

In the absence of documentation, money, or support, migrants are forced to choose life-threatening routes and methods to leave Africa. This includes the Mediterranean and Atlantic sea routes. The Mediterranean Route registers the largest number of deaths and missing people cases among all migration routes in the world. Among the three main routes in the Mediterranean Sea, the Central route registered the highest number of fatalities. This route includes sea crossings from North Africa to Italy and to Malta. The main departing countries are Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and East Algeria. The migration route from the coasts of West Africa to the Canary Islands in Spain has been used since 2006. In recent years, more African migrants have been taking this route to reach the Spanish archipelago. The largest number of migrant deaths and disappearances over this sea route were recorded in 2020. Nonetheless, it should be taken into account that tracking migration routes can be complex, and the actual number of deaths may be incomplete, especially for sea routes, as bodies are not always found or brought to land.

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