Why do west Africans want to leave Africa?

A recent survey of West African immigrants living in London has shown that the quest for jobs is by far the most common reason why West Africans leave Africa. This underscores why job creation is a key plank of the joint effort of African and European governments to tackle the migrant crisis and stem the brain drain from Africa. According to the Pew Research Centre, no less than one million Sub-Saharan Africans, many from West African countries like Nigeria and Ghana, have migrated to Europe since 2010 (Connor, 2018)[1]. When the 3000, on average, who lose their lives each year in their attempt to reach Europe via the Mediterranean are also considered, the staggering scale of the migrant crisis becomes all too clear (Meloni & Sakuma, 2015)[2].

This study conducted by Survey54’s also shows insecurity is the second oft cited reason for leaving West Africa with Education as a close third. As experts and analysts have long asserted, unemployment and insecurity are the main drivers of West African migration to Europe, with more than 85% of respondents identifying them as the main reasons for migrating. That many West African governments have prioritized job creation and security seems to inspire little confidence as most of the West Africans surveyed believed their governments’ actions were inadequate. In fact, 80% of respondents did not believe their governments were doing enough to keep people from leaving.


Despite leaving, many West Africans in diaspora seem to believe that people who remain in-country can contribute to improving the situation in their home countries from within. It is, however, unclear if the respondents who affirmed this also believe remaining in-country, instead of migrating, is in the best interest of their home countries. What is clear is that most West Africans are driven to leave Africa for self-preservation. What are the government to do to attract these young people to stay and built? If there is anything for them to actually build. Africa as a whole will have one the biggest population of young people in the world? How do we solve this problem early?


[1] Connor, Phillip, 2018. At Least A Million Sub-Saharan Africans moved to Europe Since 2010, Washington D.C.: Pew Research Center, March

[2] Meloni, Lorenzo; Sakuma Amanda, 2015. Damned for Trying, MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.com/specials/migrant-crisis/libya