Posted by: africanpressorganization | 7 April 2010

Niger / Migration Profile Highlights the Need for Improved Migration Statistics




Niger / Migration Profile Highlights the Need for Improved Migration Statistics



NIAMEY, Niger, April 7, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Press Briefing Notes

Key findings of a new IOM migration report on Niger point to an overall scarcity of data on migration and the absence of any ministry or service in the country entrusted with collecting data on Nigeriens living abroad. In fact, the last general population census conducted did not solicit any information regarding emigration.

The report shows that Niger’s low level of economic development has given rise to more emigration than immigration during the previous decade. For the past ten years, Niger has registered a negative net migration rate (per 1,000 inhabitants) of -0.6, although it has increasingly become a country of transit for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to estimates from the Centre on Migration, Globalization and Poverty (DRC) of Sussex University, based on 2000 census data, there are about 496,773 Nigerien emigrants or about 3.5% of the total population, outside their country. This has increased from 99,927 inhabitants, or 1.7% of the total population for the period 1988-1992.

Estimates from the same study show that the main countries of destination for Nigerien migrants are Burkina Faso (27.8%), Côte-d’Ivoire (26.2%), Nigeria (11.9%), Guinea Conakry (10.8%), followed by Ghana (5.2 %), Togo (3.4%) and Benin (3%). The first two of these countries alone receive more than half of all Nigerien migrants. In total, more than 89 per cent of Nigerien emigrants are based in ECOWAS countries.

According to the census data from 2000, 50% of Nigerien migrants are highly-educated; however these emigrants represent only 6% of the overall population with tertiary education. This suggests that “brain drain” is not as prevalent in Niger as it is in other West African countries. For example, during the 1995-2005 period, 9% of Nigerien doctors emigrated, while these figures were over 50% for Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau and Senegal during the same period.

While existing data on migration is limited, most immigration to Niger is identified as coming from Western Africa and representing less than 2 % of the total resident population.

Niger hosts a small number of asylum seekers and refugees (20 and 320 respectively in 2008), though historically it has seen large influxes of asylum seekers (notably from Chad in 1995).  

According to informal reporting from the Nigerian Border Surveillance Directorate, the number of irregular workers in the country is expected to be significant. However, there is no established system to collect and process reliable information on migration and the exact number of irregular migrants is not known. Following a period of economic difficulty and a progressive decline in the number of international immigrants, Niger is experiencing an economic revival and immigration can be expected to increase as a result.  

Given its geographic location, Niger has traditionally served as a transit point for migrants to North Africa (particularly Libya and Algeria) and Europe.

Factors contributing to Nigerien emigration during the past 30 years have included a persistent economic crisis, endemic poverty affecting 6 out of every 10 Nigeriens, geoclimatic phenomena affecting livelihoods, recurrent food crises, strong annual demographic growth (over 3%), and the creation of the ECOWAS zone as a space for the free movement of persons and goods.

This trend has only intensified during recent years and has become increasingly extra-regional and directed towards Europe, the Middle East and North America.

However, it is expected that current emigration rates will decrease based on real and anticipated economic gains, and actions geared towards poverty reduction.

Official remittances from Nigerien emigrants are modest compared to countries such as Mali, Senegal or Togo; however they represent significant financial resources injected into Niger’s economy. According to a national welfare survey, nearly 66 % of households considered that their living conditions improved comparatively, from 2000 to 2005.

This can be seen as a result of various factors, including migration; the transfer of funds by members of the family who have emigrated is mentioned in 15 % of the cases surveyed. Other factors mentioned may also be linked to migration, such as the existence of a job (16%) and the creation of a business corporation or a new activity (15%). In the absence of hard data however, it is difficult to evaluate the real impact of these funds on poverty reduction and the country’s development.

The official use of migration as a tool for development is beginning to gain ground in Niger through an expatriates’ knowledge transfer programme (TOKTEN) and public policies like the rural development strategy (RDS). Additionally, the Government seeks to address the issue of productive use of remittances.

In 2007, the Government set up an Inter-ministerial Committee to prepare a migration policy aimed at improving the management of internal and international migration flows. The migration policy is informed partly by international agreements ratified by Niger, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).

Data Collection on the essential points informing Nigerien migration policy continues to be a challenge. Information systems regarding immigration, emigration, funds transfers and irregular migration movements, for example, are not in place and therefore data is scant. Additionally, there is a need, to modernize and strengthen the means of data collection and processing as well as the dissemination of this information. Finally, the report recommends that major Nigerien data collection operations (i.e. general population census) include questions on international emigration given the lack of available information.


International Office of Migration (IOM)


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