The Political Economy of West African Migration Governance (WAMiG)

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. The annual 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 endeavours to highlight the political dimension of migration governance (i.e. what are the real [sometimes hidden] 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.

The project is participatory by design and a dissemination event series will take place in order to discuss and debate our findings with local experts in Abuja, Banjul, Dakar and Niamey. In addition there will be a final workshop to discuss our findings comparatively with scholars and civil society actors from all four WAMIG countries. This will take place in Accra in cooperation with the Centre for Migration Studies. More information on these events can be found here.

Funded by the Stiftung Mercator, the Political Economy of West African Migration Governance project is undertaken within the framework of the Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration (MEDAM). MEDAM is a three-year research and consultation project that identifies and closes gaps in existing research and develops specific recommendations for policy makers.

Description du projet en français

Funding Period: February – December 2019

For more information please contact Franzisca Zanker


External Project Partners: 
Altrogge, Judith M.A.
February - December 2019