Migration is a complex concept that has had negative connotations attached to it in the past decades, however international focus is now drifting away from its negative effects towards the realisation that it has potential to contribute to sustainable development of both the countries of origin and the migrants’ host countries (IMO). In the last decades, there has been rapid growth in external and regional migration in Africa. According to the World Bank’s bilateral migration matrix data in 2010, it was estimated that about 30.6 million African people (3% of the world’s population) were living in countries other than their country of birth. France being the popular destination, followed by Côte d’Ivoire (8%), South Africa (6%), Saudi Arabia (5%), and the United States (4%). Being collected in 2010, this data may actually not reflect the current migration flow as it has since grown. With this constant growth in population movement, does this migration enhance or hinder Africa’s development?
Prior to tackling the question above it is important to define what is meant by regional migration and external migration in this context. Regional migration refers to migration from one country to another within the African continent. International migration on the other hand is the movement of people from their countries in Africa, to countries outside the continent intending to extend their stay there (IOM). These types of migration can either enhance or hinder the development, depending on which view one takes. There are two opposing views which are: the “balanced growth approach” and “systematic view”. This essay will examine these approaches in order to come to a conclusion on whether migration does enhances or hinder Africa’s development.
The balanced growth approach takes on the view that migration enhances development in many ways; so much that migration ends up unnecessary. One way in which it does this is through reducing levels of unemployment. When people emigrate externally or regionally, this leaves room for replacement migration, whereby rural migrants replace the external migrants. This migration pattern is common in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal whereby the urban workers migrate to France. This pattern can enhance development of Africa because the rural-urban migrants can take over the jobs that are left open for them. This therefore alleviates unemployment and also raises productivity of labour which increases the quantity of goods and services. This therefore results in economic development of the African countries (Bernstein, 1983, p.59, cited in Thomas, 2000, p.31) Another way in which this brings about development is the improvement of living standards as they now have more access to health care, education for their children and can afford to send remittances back to their rural homes (Cross et al, 2006, p.27).
The systematic view approach however, criticises external and regional migration as it argues that it hinders development...