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Senegal is often considered one of the more successful nations in Africa. The country is a stable democracy with an elected president, and its economy experiences more consistent growth than many of the neighboring countries. Nevertheless, in recent years, thousands of Senegalese have been migrating to other countries every year. Here are answers to some of the main questions surrounding this practice.
Where Are They Migrating?
Migration from Senegal involves people relocating to another country in order to earn money. Some of these workers move to other African countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Gabon, and Ghana, but the majority travel further from home to Europe, the United States, and Canada.
Who Is Migrating?
The Senegalese who are the most likely to migrate are not the country’s wealthiest citizens, but they are also not the poorest. To be able to move to a distant country, migrants need enough money as well as a solid level of education. Not only does this give them the financial ability to make the move, but it also improves their chances of securing a position once they arrive. It’s also very helpful to have friends or family in the destination country, so this factor often helps determine which country the migrating person will choose.
Age is also a factor. With two-thirds of the Senegalese population being less than 18 years of age, the number of new entrants to the labor market is quickly growing. Many of these young people feel that there aren’t enough opportunities within Senegal, and thus, they are choosing to migrate. As they venture to a new country, they go with the hope of securing a position and being able to send money back home.
Why Are They Migrating?
The labor demand in other nations, coupled with the low incomes and economic insecurity back home, are the major driving forces behind migration. Simply put, most Senegalese who choose to move to a different country do so out of economic necessity.
In many cases, the benefits of migration are felt, not only by the migrant worker but also by the family back home in Senegal. Migrant workers often use a service to send remittances back home. This money can help support a family by diversifying sources of income, substantially increasing household income, and improving the family’s social standing.
Does Migration Help?
Migration can have a substantial impact on a large number of families because many migrants send money back home on a regular basis. These families benefit from a consistent flow of income and an increased sense of security.
On average, migrant workers send remittances of $200 to $300 back home every month. While this might not seem like a large amount of money, it actually can account for more than half of the household income for an average Senegal family. Estimates show that about $3 out of every $4 is spent on essential items, such as food, medical expenses, education, and housing, while the rest is invested in activities meant to generate future income.
Additionally, the benefits can extend to the country as a whole. On a national level, remittances can serve as a consistent and reliable source of foreign currency. Although the money initially goes only to family members, it makes its way into the economy once the family spends the money for goods and services within Senegal. Overall, remittances represent almost 10% of Senegal’s GDP.
More and more young people are leaving Senegal to find employment opportunities elsewhere. As these migrant workers send money back home, their families benefit from the consistent inflow of money that, in many cases, represents a large portion of the household income. In turn, the country of Senegal benefits because the incoming money eventually makes its way into the general economy.