OIM MaliMali

Migration au Mali: Profil National 2009


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Number of pages : 136
Format : Softcover
ISBN:: 978-92-9068-568-5
Language of Publication: French
Year of Publication: 2009

Mali is essentially a country of emigration, even though transit immigration, which has been less studied to date, is also a key element of the Malian migration profile. The net migration rate (per 1,000 persons) was -5.7 between 1995-2000 and -2.4 between 2000-2005 (United Nations Population Division (UNPD), 2008). Immigration plays a secondary role: in 2007, some 98.5 per cent of the population living in Mali were Malian nationals. Of the 1.5 per cent of non-nationals, 1.2 per cent were from countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) (ANPE/DOEF, 2007).

Immigration into Mali

The number of immigrants in Mali is not very significant. The stock of migrants in 2000 was 163,994, representing 1.6 per cent of the population; in 2005 the stock was 165,448, accounting for just 1.4 per cent of the population. The annual growth rate of the immigrant stock during 2000-2005 was 0.2% (UNPD, 2009).

According to Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (DRC) of the University of Sussex, migrants come mainly from Burkina Faso (23%), Ghana (13%), Guinea (10%), Benin (9%) and Niger (8%) (DRC, 2007).

Between 2003 and 2007, the stock of refugees remained relatively stable, declining slightly from 10,009 to 9,578. The number of asylum seekers however doubled, rising from 715 in 2003 to 1,916 in 2008 (United Nations High Commissariat for Refugees (UNHCR), 2009). This essentially concerns nationals of Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone (CNCR, 2008).

With existing statistics, it is difficult to give a precise indication of the number and characteristics of non-registered foreigners in Mali. The country’s immigration policy is not very restrictive, probably due to the deeply entrenched tradition of hospitality and culture of mobility as well as the country’s active and continuous political commitment in favour of regional integration.

Mali also seems to have become an important point of passage in the journey leading irregular migrants to Europe, because of its pivotal position between sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa. Moreover, Mali has concluded bilateral agreements on settlement and free movement with countries of Central and North Africa, making passage through Mali even more attractive as these agreements facilitate the continuation of migrants’ journeys towards the North (Daniel, 2009).

Malian emigration

According to an administrative census for election purposes (RACE) of 2001, the number of Malians abroad was estimated at 920,388 in 2001. However, this figure only takes into consideration people over 18 years old who registered with Malian embassies.

Based on 2000 Census Round data, 1,578,695 Malian nationals are estimated to live abroad. 32 per cent of these are based in Côte d’Ivoire, 28 per cent in Burkina Faso, 10 per cent in Guinea, 6 per cent in Nigeria and 5 per cent in Ghana (DRC, 2007).

In late 2008, there were 1,758 Malian refugees and 750 asylum seekers (UNHCR, 2009). In 2007, the countries receiving the largest number of asylum requests from Malian nationals were France (42%), the United States (22%), Italy (19%), South Africa (6%) and Malta (3%) (UNHCR, 2008).

In 2008, Malians based in OECD countries worked primarily in industry, construction, agriculture and fishing (OCED, 2008). Most of them have a low level of education. However, Mali is confronted with a certain brain drain, since 15 per cent of Malian university graduates emigrated during the 1995- 2005 period (Docquier and Marfouk, 2005) ; in the health sector, 23 per cent of Malian doctors and 15 per cent of nurses moved to 9 developed countries, mainly France (Clemens and Pettersson, 2007).

Factors leading to migration

In Mali, the reasons for migrants’ departure are thought to be linked to poverty, which is constantly escalating because of demographic growth, increased unemployment and difficult climatic conditions.

Rural areas are the key regions of origin of Malian migrants. According to data from the Malian migration and urbanization survey of 1992-1993, close to half of migrants come from rural areas (454,500), and 62% of these migrants go abroad.

Geographical and climatic factors also contribute to amplifying migration pressures. These factors, which vary from one region to another, relate to:  fragile ecosystems, water deficits and irregular rainfalls and pressure on natural resources in a context of high population density. However, the political stability, the openness of the regime and the dynamism of some sectors of the economy currently experienced by the country could attract migration movements towards Mali.

The consequences of migrations on Malian society

The consequences of migration vary between different regions of the country. For example, according to Mirabet and Gendreau, despite the considerable amount of funds transferred to the region of Kayes compared to other regions of the country, the funds remitted appear not to have significantly contributed to improving the living conditions of beneficiary households or stimulating economic activity in the region; the level of human development in the region of Kayes is close to or lower than the national average (Mirabet and Gendreau, 2007).

Nevertheless, thanks to more structured migrants’ associations and the emergence of new actors over the past few years, the share of transfers used for social and productive investments is on the increase. In some areas, contributions from migrants, apart from providing food support, helped to build religious, social and productive infrastructure Fonds de solidarité prioritaire (FSP) Codéveloppement Mali, 2006). However, it is still necessary to distinguish between funds sent individually, essentially for the beneficiaries’ consumption, and funds sent by community associations for the construction of infrastructure.

In order to take advantage of the experience of qualified migrants through actions to strengthen the capacities of their areas of origin, programmes such as the Co-development Programme with France and the TOKTEN Programme with UNDP are implemented in Mali.

The Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) programme, implemented in Mali since 1998, led to the constitution of a directory of 282 expatriate Malians who volunteered for the programme, and to the organization of 429 missions as at 21 December 2007. These missions take the form of courses, scientific conferences, supervision of academic work and professional training; they were conducted by close to 150 expatriate nationals. Recent evaluations of these two migration policies/programmes confirm that they have achieved meaningful results and contribute to strengthening the impact of migration on the development of Mali (CARIM 2008). 

Policy framework and challenges of migration management

The political framework and actions undertaken for the management of migration in Mali are essentially directed towards emigration, the major migratory trend in the country; they are also integrated into the national framework on development.

Concerning the management of migration, a major activity is the development of a National Policy Framework on Migration. In 2005, after the National Population Policy was adopted by the Government, the first elements of an emigration management strategy were established. To face up to the migration phenomenon, in 2006-2007, the Malian Government, through the Ministry of Malians Abroad and African Integration, initiated the preparation of a National Policy Framework Paper on Migration. Even though it is not completed yet, this Paper seems to become a key reference document providing guidelines on the way ahead in the different areas of intervention concerning migration. This document deals with three major axes of migration regulation: departure regulations, secure stay abroad and economic integration upon return.

Efforts to incorporate the issue of migration into the National Strategic Framework on Development include, among other initiatives, the priority solidarity fund for co-development (FSP Codéveloppement) programme established with France. Designed and prepared by the Franco-Malian Committee on Migration in 2000, it aims at supporting the activities of associations, facilitating the mobilization of funds transferred by migrants for the benefit of the national economy, and strengthening ties between emigrant youths and their country of origin.

Mention can also be made of the Migration Information and Management Centre (CIGEM) set up in 2008. It is a public service mandated to improve knowledge on migration phenomena, with a special emphasis on the link between migration and development. CIGEM, a pilot structure, may be replicated in other ECOWAS countries.

The key body responsible for migration management in Mali is the Ministry of Malians Abroad and African Integration. CIGEM and the General Delegation of Malians Abroad are the two operational arms of the Ministry.

Data gaps

Despite the interest of the country’s authorities in these issues, migratory phenomena are not fully studied. The last general population census in Mali Migration au Mali : Profil National 2009 25 (RGPH, 1998) and the only specialized survey on migration (EMMU, 1992-93) were undertaken over ten years ago, and cannot therefore reflect the current trends.

Data management defects are observed in all national structures. Very few public bodies have Internet sites which compile published documents or articles; only the National Border Police Directorate has a database on visa issuance (data concerning forced or voluntary return of migrants is not computerized). Administrative data is not very reliable: only incoming and outgoing passengers travelling by air are regularly registered, since other border crossings are not yet prepared for such work; consular data does not constitute a reliable source, as immigrants and emigrants are not necessarily registered with their consulate.

To improve data on migration, there is a need to develop and establish a coherent computer system, involving all stakeholders and in keeping with the guiding principles of the national plan for statistics.