The political economy of West African migration governance

The project explored migration governance instruments and their implementation, institutions involved, stakes and stakeholders, as well as the societal discourse that surrounds these interests. The project focused on four countries—the Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

Start of Project 02/2019
End of Project 12/2019

The unprecedented influx of refugees and other migrants to Europe in 2015 also led to a renewed push towards a common EU African agenda of dealing with the challenges of migration. Numerous meetings, events and summits have been (at least partly) dedicated for this purpose, including the Valetta summit in 2015, the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017 and the EU-Africa Summit in Abidjan in November 2017. Numerous bilateral, regional and continental Afro-European frameworks and policies pre-date and accompany these political gatherings. Yet, the current approach–including through the EU partnership framework–is not working. Our  2018 MEDAM assessment report argues that EU countries should engage more actively with African countries, in this case in order to increase legal labour opportunities in return for cooperation on re-admission.

Such active engagement between African and European countries is still lacking. On the one hand, critics highlight the tendency for migration cooperation to favour European interests rather than those of their African counterparts, incoherence in EU policy-making and the exclusionary nature of many of the summits and events. On the other hand, African governments have been criticised for their lack of engagement in migration governance. One major problem is how little is known about interests, stakes and stakeholders when it comes to governing migration, including emigration (both regular and irregular), immigration and dealing with displaced persons. The Political Economy of West African Migration Governance project, conducted by the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute within the framework of MEDAM, endeavours to highlight the political dimension of migration governance (i.e. what are the real interests and power asymmetries) and the multiple stakeholders (including civil society and sub-national ones).

To do this the project considers how migration governance instruments and institutions are made and implemented, the stakes and stakeholders involved or excluded and the societal discourse that surrounds these interests. The qualitative study focuses on four case studies – the Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal – and will be based on fieldwork including semi-structured interviews in the respective countries.