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Redefining African Migration

Images of desperate people on the move have blinded Westerners, in particular, to the fact that people have always moved, and that migration is necessary and beneficial for human development. Nowhere is this fact more relevant today than in Africa.

GENEVA – Few issues are as emotional as human migration. Images of desperate people on the move – whether trying to cross the US-Mexico border or packed onto rickety boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea – have heightened tensions and forged a narrative that migration has no upside.

But these images have also blinded us to the fact that people have always moved, and that migration is necessary and beneficial for human development. Nowhere is this fact more relevant today than in Africa.

Despite the ongoing political crisis surrounding African migration to Europe, the reality is that fewer Africans are migrating to European countries than when the numbers peaked in October 2015. As it happens, most African migrants move within Africa. And for African governments in particular, that fact creates an opportunity to harness the positive power of human mobility.

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