Emigration has always been a part of human history. Driven by harsh climate, poor economic conditions, or even the search for fulfillment people have always moved locations in search of a better life.
The story remains very much the same for Africans, especially young Africans who are looking to create a better future for themselves. In 2021, over 41 million Africans left their countries in search of greener pastures.
Inspired by a Remitly research from 2020 that tracked the most popular destinations for people over the world to relocate to, we asked the question: Where are Africans relocating to? To answer this question, we employed a similar approach to Remitly, researching the search data from 48 African countries—an improvement on the 17 from the older report. However, we were still unable to get search data on six countries – Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, and South Sudan.
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Taking a look at the country-by-country breakdown showed some interesting data. Across Africa, France seems to be the most-favored country to migrate to, with people searching for ways to get to France all around the continent.
While residents of Northern, Western and Eastern African have some variability in the choice of countries to migrate to, Central and Southern Africans have strong correlations. In Southern African countries, 6 out of 10 countries favor the UK as a relocating destination. While in Central Africa all 6 countries we could get data for favored France.
Language: the most important factor in African migration
While researching the search data from the 48 countries, a couple of trends stood out. The most prominent of which was the language factor. For 36 out of the 48 (75%) countries, we were able to get results for, the destination country and the originating country share the same language.
The trends are even stronger for the most popular countries to relocate to:
- 11 of the 15 countries (73%) where the UK is the most-preferred destination are english-speaking countries or at least countries where English is widely spoken.
- For france, 13 of the 17 (76%) countries where France is the preferred destination are french-speaking countries.
The reason for this trend is pretty easy to figure out. When relocating to countries with an unfamiliar language, many Africans have cited having to learn a new language as a barrier to cultural assimilation. Moving to a country without a language barrier can make lifestyle adaptation much easier than when the reverse is the case. Countries with similar languages also tend to have shared history, especially with regard to colonial affiliations. These factors also affect cultural practices, some of which may be similar.
Remember to check rates with Zazuu before sending money back home to ensure that you’re getting the best deals on cross-border transactions to Africa. Did you find any part of the article interesting? Share via social media and join in the conversation with the hashtag #WAART2022.