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Improved statistics key to unlocking the development potential of migration conclude African experts

Kampala, Uganda, 22 July 2022 (ECA): The urgency of improving data and statistics to capture the benefits of migration for Africa’s prosperity and resilience was underscored at an Expert Group Meeting on migration statistics, convened by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Held in Kampala from 21 to 22 July 2022, the meeting brought together government officials from more than 18 African countries, cross-sector representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as delegates from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The meeting was informed by a background paper by ECA, entitled ‘towards a coordinated mechanism for collecting and utilisation of accurate and disaggregated migration data for evidence-based policies in Africa’. The paper unpacks migration patterns, progress and practices and pathways in Africa for the Global Compact for Safe, orderly and Regular Migration’s implementation, involving all stakeholders.

In her remarks delivered by Mr. Gideon Rutaremwa at the meeting, the Acting Director of ECA’s Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, Ms. Edlam Yemeru mentioned that generating migration data was an integral part of leveraging its potential for national development. She added that human mobility was closely linked to the opening of regional trade in Africa as a means of accelerating recovery from multiple crises – notably, COVID-19 and food insecurity resulting from the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Speaking at the meeting, IGAD’s Head of Mission to the Republic of Uganda, Ms. Lucy Daxbacher highlighted the need for improved coordination of existing structures at all levels in order to consolidate efforts in improving migration statistics.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Brian Okengo from AUC’s migration programme emphasised that labour migration data and statistics remain a key pillar in improving migration governance in Africa. He stressed the need for member States to produce accurate, reliable and high-quality labour migration data to develop evidence-based policies and decisions for the protection and well-being of migrant workers.

Building on Mr. Okengo’s words, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Uganda, Mr. Sanusi Savage in his remarks, delivered by Mr. Richard Kavuma, highlighted the challenges faced in defining migration data across Africa’s sub-regions, including differences in the definition of indicators, the limited coverage of certain geographical regions in the sources of data as well as vulnerabilities of the persons on the move, who remain hidden and unaddressed.

Positive steps

In their presentations, member States highlighted a series of progressive measures, undertaken to improve migration data architecture. These ranged from national migration data undertakings as well as coordination mechanisms and plans to improved data availability and utilisation in the respective countries. Participants also underlined the urgent need for the uptake of technology by member States, including the use of big data, electronic data collection and biometric border control measures.

The way forward

To further enhance migration statistics, experts called for the development of harmonised concepts and tools to collect data; integration of standard migration modules in all existing data collection undertakings, including big data; strengthened use of administrative data sources; increased utilisation of digital technology; and stronger advocacy for migration statistics. ECA’s technical assistance to member States together with its partners in these areas was appreciated and considered vital.

Issued by:
Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001 Addis Ababa
Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 551 5826
E-mail: eca-info@un.org