May 19, 2024

Africa: Migration trends to watch in 2020 – Perspectives by Tola Emmanuel 

Migration is one of the most complex aspects of the 21st-century development agenda. With dominant nexus with politics, economics, health and social wellbeing, migration has been at the forefront of global development narratives and will, perhaps, continue to be.

Building on migration patterns and practices in 2019, it is apt to posit that 2020 will unveil new migration patterns especially for developing countries like Nigeria.

Here are seven migration trends to look out for in 2020.

Gross desperation to leave Nigeria: This year, more Nigerians will attempt to leave the country through every means possible. Such moves will be highly propelled by desperation, despair and uncertainty about the state of livelihood in the country coupled with the idea that anywhere else is better off than Nigeria.

Restrictions for Nigerians: In tandem with changing migration policies of several developed countries, restrictions or travel ban might be placed on various categories of people and nationalities. While some of these policies may not specifically target Nigeria, it is almost certain that Nigeria will have the features of the restricted countries. And yes, several visa applications from Nigeria will be denied based on little or no mistakes. This will, however, strain bilateral relationships between Nigeria and several countries.

Interest in skilled labor: As a means of advancing their economic capacity, several countries, especially in Europe, will float skilled migration programmes to absorb proficient migrants from developing countries like Nigeria. This will be a case of equilibrium, where demand meets supply. On the flip side, this move will further deepen Nigeria’s brain drain index.

Increase in travel cost: International travels are generally cost-intensive, but this year, travel cost will skyrocket. Why? This is because of the prevailing economic condition of Nigeria; increase in VAT, double-digit inflation, high exchange rate of naira to foreign currencies. Some embassies will review and increase their visa and travel processing fees. The economic wellbeing of Nigeria will reflect on the travel industry and migration as a whole. This means, more people will be forced to abandon their migration plans due to limited funds.

Rise in travel agents, smugglers and traffickers: With increase in emigration interest and desperation, and gross misinformation and over reliance on third-party services, many Nigerians will be defrauded through travel agents. Fake agents and smugglers will be on the increase riding on people’s ignorance, gross misinformation and over-reliance on unverified thirty-party services. Human traffickers will also be on the increase with mouthwatering promises to unsuspecting victims who are filled with utmost desperation to leave the country. Expectedly, the cost and results outweigh the initial goals and intent of the victim.

Rise in irregular migration: Desperation fuels brash decision,ignorance hosts uninformed decisions. This year, many Nigerians who are desperate to leave at all cost will embark on irregular migration to several destinations including Europe and America. A large number of such journeys will end in futility and regrets, costing money, time, resources and lives.

More people, more money for Nigeria: With the visa-on-arrival programme announced by the Nigerian government to African countries, it is expected that more business-oriented personnel will fly into the country this year. Expectedly, this will positively affect the revenue base of the Nigerian Immigration Service and invariably the Nigerian government. The challenge, however, is the capacity to effectively manage all the components of the visa-on-arrival programme.

This year, Nigeria will predominantly feature on the global migration map due to its vast population, economic status and unique footing on the African continent. The question is; will it be featured on a positive or negative note?

Tola Emmanuel is a social commentator. He can be contacted at

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