Songwe and Kituyi launch UNCTAD’s 2018 Economic Development in Africa Report

Addis Ababa, 31 May 2018 (ECA) – The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) flagship report, the Economic Development in Africa Report 2018, was launched in Addis Ababa Thursday.

Subtitled ‘Migration and Structural Transformation in Africa’, the report highlights that contrary to some perceptions, most migration in Africa today is taking place within the continent.

Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, and UNCTAD’s Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, jointly launched the publication which also highlights the importance of intra-African migration for deeper regional and continental integration.

Ms. Songwe said the report was timely and informative, adding it will go a long way in enriching on-going consultations on the Global Compact for Migration, especially as it plugs the information or data gaps in the current migration narrative.

Of importance, she said, was the fact that the report emphasizes the economic impact of migration on the continent as it showcases the relationship between migration and economic development in Africa.

“We at the ECA welcome the report, especially as migration is one of the top priorities on the international agenda,” said Ms. Songwe, who has just returned from a two-day meeting in Geneva of the High-Level Panel on Migration for Africa (HLPM).

“We will work closely with you to disseminate the report’s findings and to support countries to better harness intra-African migration’s potential. We can now have informed debates on migration because we have a factual report which has the necessary data which will ensure timely and informed decisions are taken on the continent.”

The HLPM seeks to develop recommendations that will help build Africa’s case for facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration, and contribute to the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration.

Ms. Songwe said the report was also relevant as it comes after the launch this year of the Single African Transport Market, the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and on-going African Union reforms.

She said migration was equalizing and prosperity enhancing, adding the data and numbers in the UNCTAD report will help to frame the African migration narrative and realities.


For his part, Mr. Kituyi said images of thousands of African youth drowning in the Mediterranean, propelled by poverty or conflict at home and lured by the hope of jobs abroad, have fed a misleading narrative that migration from Africa harms rather than helps the continent.

“This report bursts this myth and takes aim at this preconceived notion and assesses the evidence to identify policy pathways that harness the benefits of African migration and mitigate its negative effects,” he said.


The UNCTAD Chief said the way migrants are covered on international news channels coloured the debate about migrants in a negative way hence his organization decided to come up with a report to generate information that can enrich the global dialogue on migration.

“Contrary to pretentious international media reports, the main theatre of movement in migration on the continent is of Africans moving within African countries and very little moving to Europe and beyond,” Mr. Kituyi said.

In 2017, 19 million international migrants moved within Africa and 17 million Africans left the continent and the gap is narrowing. Africa, according to the report, is also a migration destination for 5.5 million people who came from outside the continent.

“Migration benefits both origin and destination countries across Africa,” said Mr. Kituyi.

The report argues that African migration can play a key role in the structural transformation of the continent’s economies.

Well-managed migration also provides an important means for helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, both in Africa and beyond, added Mr. Kituyi.

“We believe this report offers new and innovative analytical perspectives, relevant for both long-term policymaking and for the design of demand-driven technical cooperation projects, with a shorter time frame and will help governments and other stakeholders in reaching informed decisions on appropriate migration policies in the context of Africa’s regional integration process.”

The report offers new insights for African governments as well as for migration stakeholders outside the continent as it seeks to remedy knowledge gaps on the relationship between migration, economic and trade policies.


Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826