- Senegal historically has been a major destination for migrants from all over West Africa. Not any more, new statistics show. Senegal now only is a transit country for migrants and suffers itself from emigration of skilled workers.
This was revealed today in a new country report presented by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM). It demonstrates that Senegal during the last decade has shifted from a country being a destination of immigration to becoming a source of emigration to Europe, Africa and America.
The report sees the main reason for this shift in "increasingly difficult living conditions at home and the successful migration experience of earlier Senegalese emigrants to most developed African countries, as well as to Europe and the United States." Since year 2000, the UN has listed Senegal as a "least developed country" (LDC).
Immigration to Senegal, "though less significant, still exists but has become essentially transit migration," the report finds. "Indeed, because of its geographical position, emigration candidates, particularly from West Africa, transit through Senegal as they head further north to Maghreb countries, or to travel by sea or air to Europe."
According to the UN's Population Division, the net rate of migration - in other words the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving the country per year per 1,000 inhabitants - registered a negative trend for the first time during the 1995-2005 period. "The estimates for 2005-2010 seem to confirm this tendency, with a net emigration rate of 1.7 migrant per 1,000 inhabitants," the report says.
According to data available, the stock of Senegalese emigrants is estimated at 479,515 persons. The key destination countries are neighbouring The Gambia (20%), France (18%), Italy (10%), neighbouring Mauritania (8%), Germany (5%) and Ghana (5%).
Data had shown that the vast majority of all emigrants were of working age, and that close to 68 percent of emigrants moved abroad in search of a better or new job. This was particularly the case for skilled workers, who represented 24.1 percent of the emigrant stock abroad.
Additionally, the research had pointed to a "brain drain" phenomenon now affecting Senegal, with 17.7 percent of those receiving higher education emigrating, largely to France. "This phenomenon is especially prevalent amongst medical professionals," the research showed.
But emigration also has its positive aspects. As for remittances sent by Senegalese abroad, they had increased from US$ 233 million in 2000 to US$ 1,192 billion in 2007. This large sum by now represents 10,7 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, thus contributing immensely to the Senegalese economy.
Individual poverty in Senegal has declined from 67.0 percent in 1995 to 50.6 percent in 2005. However 66 percent of households surveyed consider themselves poor. The IOM report indicates that this decrease in poverty has been significantly influence by emigration and remittances from emigrants.
"This may be seen in the context of an ever greater number of Senegalese emigrating and related income disparities seen as a result of remittances," the report says. "A 60 percent disparity in income was reported between those households that receive remittances from abroad and those that do not," it adds, demonstrating how emigration is important for household economies.
The IOM Migration profile of Senegal underlines the fact that "Senegal has neither a formal migration policy nor a structure dedicated to the migration issue for determining and implementing the national migration policy." However, the report acknowledges that the Senegalese Government has made efforts on several fronts towards managing migration flows, from bi-lateral agreements with France, Italy and Spain to initiatives promoting employment for youth and for women.
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