[…] The effects of the EUTF for the African continent need yet to be researched. But the ways the EU tries to keep pressure on African governments to guard their border outposts and accept returned deportees can be seen as another chapter in a long history of simultaneously interlaced and unequal trajectories between the two continents, produced by power inequalities, colonial domination, exploitation, and racism. At the same time, African governments are not merely passive victims of Europe’s externalizing endeavors, as these regulations are flexibly negotiated. Furthermore, we know from years of research that migration movements cannot easily be stopped by border control.
In fact, Asmita Parshotam (2018) shows that Africa is the least migratory region in the world, and the majority of international migrants from Africa remain on the continent. In 2017, 19.4 million international African migrants, plus 5 million international migrants from outside Africa, resided on the continent. According to the UNHCR, countries as Cameroon, Chad, the DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda hosted one third of the refugees globally (4.9 million refugees). Although the number of African migrants living outside the continent has increased from 6.9 million in 1990 to 16.9 million in 2017, such statistics hardly correlate with the images portrayed in European media of migrants arriving on European shores.
In addition, not all of these migrants live in Europe. For instance, more than 80% of Egyptian migrant workers are employed in the Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait. And more migratory ties have emerged recently between Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Gulf states. Within the last 30 years, African migrant communities have also emerged in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Istanbul. These migrant networks are strongly connected to the high mobility of African traders, who commute back and forth between the continents. Although Europe is not irrelevant, it certainly does not merit the central place it occupies in the popular discourses and academic work which frame African mobilities. Indeed, Europe has extensively invested in knowledge production in order to govern African migration movements, not only at Europe’s borders, but also on the continent itself. In response to this, philosopher Achille Mbembe recently advocated for an African continent without borders. In response to the overarching migration control attempts by Europe within Africa, he argues, the next phase of Africa’s decolonization should involve granting mobility to all its people and reshaping the terms of membership in a political and cultural ensemble that is not confined to the nation-state.
„European Imaginations and African Mobility Realities“