New Horizons in African Migration: The Migration Governance Reform Research Program (MIGRA) Takes Off

The New South Institute (NSI) proudly presents the debut publication from its the Migration Governance Reform in Africa research program (MIGRA). This marks the inauguration of a series of future publications that promise to reshape the discourse around migration in Africa.

Authored by Alan Hirsch, Director of the NSI’s Migration Governance Reform Project, the report offers a fresh perspective on the dynamic relationship between migration, integration, and development in Africa. It echoes the African Union Protocol’s sentiment on the potential of free movement to strengthen cultural and economic ties, and foster integration, trade, and investment within the continent.

Striving to be more than a academic insight, MIGRA seeks to establish practical solutions to enhance migration management and ease the movement and settlement of Africans across the continent. The research endeavours to scrutinise the capabilities of state and superstate institutions, as well as the political and economic conditions that influence migration trends.

The report also provides a profound analysis of the complexities surrounding border governance, and unpacks the nuanced differences between migratory and non-migratory mobility. It highlights the challenges in capturing accurate migration trends due to limited data collection and the tendency for migration estimates to be inflated.

MIGRA’s research doesn’t shy away from the reality of open African borders’ challenges, considering factors such as inequality, poverty, and the constraints of nation-state sovereignty. By investigating reforms at national, bilateral, regional, and continental levels, the program strives to understand the progress and the viable pathways to improve movement within Africa.

A significant part of the report delves into the various reform approaches that have shaped the legal and administrative environment for cross-border movement. It includes an examination of the migration policies implemented in the European Union (EU) and South America, drawing valuable insights from these regions’ successes and shortcomings.

The publication sets the stage for a historical review of African migration governance and traces the phases of migration policies and initiatives, from post-colonial era restrictions through commitments to continental integration and free movement, to current regional initiatives such as those by ECOWAS, SADC, and IGAD.

Understanding that migration governance is a multifaceted issue, MIGRA adopts a historical and comparative political economy approach. Four country cases (South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, and Nigeria) alongside regional and continental cases (ECOWAS, SADC, and AU) will be meticulously examined to better understand migration reform dynamics.

Through this comprehensive study, MIGRA aims to provide practical, strategic knowledge to support policymakers in their African integration efforts. Its analysis is grounded in robust data collection from demographic data, primary and secondary sources, and interviews with stakeholders.

For a deeper understanding of migration patterns, policy history, regional dynamics, and the role of regional institutions, we invite you to explore this ground-breaking report. Download “Framing a Study of African Migration Governance Reform—Towards Freer Movement” [here] and join the dialogue. The path to progress is a shared one, and your engagement is invaluable.

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