Migration in Africa Under the Lens: Alan Hirsch’s Recent Article in Global Government Forum


In a recent article for the Global Government Forum, Alan Hirsch, Research Fellow at the New South Institute (NSI) and Head of the Migration Governance Reform Programme, explores the nuances of migration governance in Africa and what the continent can learn from European and South American experiences.

The article, entitled “Migration governance in flux. What can Africa learn from the rest of the world?” unpacks the challenges and prospects of achieving free movement of people across the continent, a vision African leaders have pursued since the launch of the Abuja Treaty for African Economic Integration in 1991.

Setting the historical context, Alan explains the pan-African ideals that emerged as a response to colonial boundaries and continued to shape Africa after decolonisation. After independence, the transformation of imperial territories into nation states led to even tighter restrictions on movement than in the colonial era.

He highlights two different visions of integration in the early independence era. While leaders such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah advocated immediate continental integration, others such as Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere favoured a gradual, regional approach. Ultimately, the latter view prevailed, leading to the establishment of regional structures.

Alan also details the efforts of organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and their impact on the mobility of people across borders. He highlights the disparity between the rapid ratification of trade agreements, such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and the slower adoption of protocols related to the free movement of people.

Drawing lessons from Europe and South America, Alan’s article offers a comprehensive look at the evolution of migration governance. While Europe has achieved internal freedom of movement for its EU citizens over several decades, South American countries have made significant progress through efforts such as MERCOSUR. He highlights that African countries are making progress on several fronts, although challenges remain.

This insightful exploration by Alan correlates with his recent publication on NSI entitled “Framing a Study of African Migration Governance Reform – Towards Freer Movement“. This study delves into the relationship between migration, integration and development in Africa and is part of the broader Migration Governance Reform in Africa (MIGRA) research programme he is leading.

For those interested in understanding the intricacies of migration governance in Africa and drawing parallels with global experiences, Alan’s article on the Global Government Forum is a must-read. The broader context provided by his recent NSI publication further enriches the discourse on this important topic.

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