African woman working on a farm in Italy. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/OXFAM
African woman working on a farm in Italy. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/OXFAM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has called for greater labor mobility for migrants in Africa to improve good governance of migrant flows on the continent.

More needs to be done to take advantage of potential benefits of labor mobility and to regulate it, ensuring greater protection for migrant workers, the UN agency IOM has stressed. 

In an article, IOM said that labor mobility is key to good governance of migration in Africa, where 52.6 percent of African migrants move within the continent itself. 

A large number of migrants from West Africa including Niger move on a seasonal basis to North Africa for work and this trend seems to have remained relatively steady over the years. Nigerians move there for work but do not intend to go to Europe. However, given a lack of organized systems for organized migration of manpower, many of these migrants may suffer exploitation and sufferings linked to an absence of a legal status once at their destination. 

Difficult situation in West Africa 

IOM noted that the economies of West Africa are dominated mostly by informal trade and agriculture. Migrant workers on the continent often find themselves in situations of low wages, lack of social protections, precarious jobs, difficult work conditions and few skills. While youth employment, rural development and economic improvement policies continue to be necessary in their countries of origin, over the short term they are not enough to reduce the desire of young West Africans to migrate in search of opportunities outside of the region. 

The response is often to help them when they decide to return to their countries of origin, but simply repatriating migrants to their countries of origin is not a feasible option for destination countries - who need these workers to help their economies - or for the economies of the countries of origin. 

Advantages of legal, orderly migration 

Countries have much to gain from planning systems at the bilateral or regional. That would enable young people to legally get jobs in foreign countries - on the one hand meeting the needs of the labor market while receiving protection and basic services on the other. In this way, these countries would give youths the possibility to expand their economic, social and cultural possibilities, the IOM argues.

Bilateral labor agreements (BLA), the IOM said, can also be a tool to ensure that migration flows remain orderly and within specific sectors in which labor market needs have been identified. The setting up of legal channels for migration, including labor immigration programs, could reduce irregular migration flows over the long term. Legal and regular migration channels could at the same time ensure a process of legal, safe return for those choosing to return home.

More articles