10:22 am
25 October 2016

Top 10 African Countries with the Most Foreigners

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Nigeria hosts a minimum of 7000 refugees, primarily of Liberian origin. However, most immigrants to Nigeria came from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo.

I wonder what it says that at least 5 other countries apart from Nigeria are both top destinations for both emigration and immigration on the continent. They are South Africa, Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Sudan. With the ongoing problems in Cote D’Ivoire (CIV), the question becomes whether CIV will lose its position next year. Similarly, bombings in Nigeria and other violence could play a role in changing that country’s status as a top destination for immigrants. But, then again, given the relative insecurity in the countries from which these same immigrants are fleeing, Nigeria might continue to seem like a better option.

Amazingly, it turns out that Nigeria is also one the most popular African countries for African immigrants fleeing distress, famine and other problems in their home nations. The most popular countries to which Africans moved in 2010 are the following:

1. Côte d’Ivoire – 2.2 to 2.3 Million foreigners

According to UNPD data, the total number of immigrants in Côte d’Ivoire in 2005 was 2,231,277, i.e. 12.3 per cent of the total population (projections for 2010 expect 2,406,713 immigrants, i.e. 11.2% of the total population). Since the country’s independence, the annual growth rate of immigrant stocks has varied between 1.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent, but due to the politico-military crisis, it declined to 0.3 per cent during the 2000-2005 period (same value projected for the 2005-2010 period) (UNPD, 2009)..

The slowdown in the immigration growth rate is due to the fact that since the outbreak of the Ivorian crisis in 2002, following an attempted coup in September 2002, many foreigners living in Côte d’Ivoire returned voluntarily, either on the initiative of the migrants themselves or on the initiative of these migrants’ states of origin. Between May and July 2003, some 7,500 voluntary repatriations were organized by IOM. These operations mostly concerned Burkinabe nationals (80% of total repatriations), Malians, Guineans and Senegalese (IOM, 2003). Some of these nationals (Burkinabe, Malians) were said to have returned to Côte d’Ivoire but it is difficult to estimate their number. Moreover, close to 8,000 French nationals (including those with dual citizenship) were reported to have left Côte d’Ivoire after the events of November 2004 (renewed hostilities following the rejection of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process), according to consular data reported by Merabet (2006).

The high gross activity rate among immigrants (almost 60%) seems to show that immigration in Côte d’Ivoire is essentially work-related (INS, 2002d). According to AGEPE, only 4,833 working visas were issued – 4,564 to men and 269 to women – during the 2000-2006 period (AGEPE, 2006). These figures 24 Migration en Côte d’Ivoire : Profil National 2009 confirm the impression that the majority of migrants work in the informal sector for which the AGEPE receives no declaration. These international migrants and their descendants (of full age) born in Côte d’Ivoire, are essentially engaged in farming, trade and non-social services. In 1998, half of the largest foreign communities worked in the agricultural sector (INS, 2002d).

Family reunification is also one of the key reasons for immigration in Côte d’Ivoire since it concerns about 24 per cent of immigrants on Ivorian territory (INS, 2006).