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University of Ghana. Accra, 23rd-28th May 2019

For text in French, click here

Intra-regional migration in Africa – voluntarily or forced – is by far the most dominant form on the continent compared to African migration to Europe or other parts of the world. The history of migration in Africa dates back to pre-colonial times. The movement of people has always been at the centre of commercial exchanges before the colonial conquest. The valorization of the colonies perpetuated this “tradition”, drawing notably on a system of an “imported” workforce in the development poles created in Africa. The development of a market economy and globalization have reinforced and accentuated these movements. Migration is thus even considered as a lifestyle by certain sections of the population.

According to the World Bank, two thirds of the growing number of migrants from sub-Saharan states migrates to other countries in the region. Hence, intra-regional migration in Africa poses major challenges to the states and populations concerned. It also constitutes an object of investigation for African and non-African scholars. Despite its importance in terms of numbers, intra-regional migration in African is under researched compared to African migration to other continents. Thus, current research in this domain is dominated by the analysis of causes, implications and mechanisms of control of migration from Africa to Europe.
To contribute to the remediation of this imbalance, the newly established Merian Institute of Advanced Studies (MIASA) at the University of Ghana in Accra and the network Point Sud will organize a Summer School to bring together a group of young researchers (PhD-students and post-docs) and senior scholars from various disciplines who are working on different aspects of intra-regional migration in Africa. The objective of the summer school is twofold. Firstly, it aims to confront different disciplinary approaches in order to stimulate a fruitful dialogue about theories, methods and fields of investigation related to the subject. Secondly, the summer school seeks to shift away from the over-emphasis on current dominant perspectives on migration in Africa.
Following a comparative perspective, this interdisciplinary dialogue will permit to discern the commonalities and specificities with regard to different forms and dimensions of the intra-regional migration in Africa. The summer school does not have an ambition to cover every dimension of African migration. Instead, it will delimit the field through focusing on three principal axis:

Axis 1: Logics, practices and history of Migration (why and how?)

  •  Which forms of intra-regional migration in Africa can be distinguished (labor migration, irregular migration, forced migration caused by conflicts and climate change etc.)?
  •  What are the inter-linkages among these forms?
  •  What are the profiles of these migrants?
  •  What are the characteristics and symbols of the intra-regional migration?
  •  How is the intra-regional migration in Africa occurring?
  •  Which routes are used by migrants and how are they constituted?
  •  What forms can be distinguished with regard to the time aspects (cyclical/ seasonal migration versus more permanent forms)?
  •  What else are moving besides people (goods, capital, ideas and knowledge)?
  •  What networks are used / constituted to facilitate migration and what are their interconnections?
  •  How are boarders perceived by migrants?
  •  What vulnerabilities exist for migrants along the routes?

Axis 2: Admission and Integration of Migrants

This axis questions the integration of intra-regional migrants from the institutional perspective as well as “seen from below”. The set up of regional and sub-regional bodies like ECOWAS in order to facilitate economic and social integration of the population in a delimited space is constantly contested, supported or extended by informal modes of integration. The question is therefore not only about understanding the interrelations between the institutional and informal levels of integration but also concerning the following:

  • What are the reasons for settlement?
  • Which modes of entry and integration of migrants can be distinguished?
  • What are the basis of inclusion and exclusion of the migrants?
  • What state policies and practices (legislation, citizenship, employment policies, social protection policies) exist concerning the integration of migrants?
  • What integration strategies are adopted by the migrants or are available to them (networks, role of religion, Diaspora, economy, social media etc.)?
  • How do migrants relate with host communities and what challenges are associated (identity, ethnicity, land conflicts)?
  • How are relations with “the other” perceived in the context of inter-regional migration (hospitality, xenophobia, social exclusion, etc.)?

Axis 3: Inter-Regional Migration and Relations to the Countries of Origin

African Diasporas are at the core of current African politics. This stems from the fact that they are an important target group for public action in terms of measures for socio-economic transformations. Beyond activities like the regroupings by sub-regional organizations, African states are also adopting measures which address the Diasporas directly. Furthermore, the
financial investments by members of the Diasporas are well expected and their implication for national elections can often unleash conflicts. In general, migrants maintain relations with their countries of origin in many ways, which are also influenced by the conditions and motivations for their migration. Points of interest in this domain are the following, among others:

  • Migration and local development (transfer of funds / remittances, political participation)
  • The migration experience
  • Gender issues and intra-regional migration in Africa
  • Children of migrants (second and third generation in the Diaspora) and national affiliation / citizenship


For more information on the methodology, qualifications, application process and practical matters please visit this website.


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