Publications Notes de l'Ifri

The African Union’s Migration Agenda: An Alternative to European Priorities in Africa? Notes de l'Ifri, février 2021

While migration from Africa is the priority of European policies for the control of the European Union’s external borders, African migration dynamics are above all regional. Sub-Saharan migration is poorly connected to transcontinental flows: more than 70% remain in Africa.


If we look at the continent as a whole, adding the Maghreb countries and South Africa (two regions better connected to transcontinental migration due to their level of development), the figure rises to nearly 53%, or more than one migrant in two. The proportion of African migrants hosted in Europe is 26%, or one in four. Finally, nearly one-third of the world’s refugees are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Moreover, institutional logics of regional integration exist on the African continent and make freedom of movement an objective. At the continental level, several projects led by the African Union pursue this objective, while migration has been included by the United Nations as a dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, these initiatives encounter various obstacles, in terms of the reluctance of some important countries (such as Nigeria or South Africa) and lack of resources.

Faced with this regional reality of African migration and the place that the issue occupies in the ongoing processes of regional integration in Africa, European policies impose an agenda that fails to take these specificities into account. Beyond the political sensitivity in Europe to the subject of migration (and particularly migration from Africa), this discrepancy can also be explained by two very different visions of the link between the regulation of migration flows and the development of African countries, and by a political asymmetry in the partnership between Europe and Africa.


The Africa Union's Migration Agenda: An Alternative to European Union Priorities in Africa?
African Union European Union (EU) Governance migration refugees Africa Europe