An international knowledge exchange network is being formed to help African countries reap maximum benefit from a surge in migration into Africa.
MIAG – the Migration for Inclusive African Growth network – will bring together academics, migrants, business and policymakers to focus on promoting economic growth that creates opportunities for all, not just for the few.
The network is led by The Open University and will cover four African countries – Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique.
It is funded with £150,000 from the Global Challenges Research Fund’s Strategic Networks programme, which is led by the Economic and Social Research Council.
MIAG is responding to a surge in new migrants moving both into Africa from outside, and between countries within Africa.
"The economic downturn revealed the fragility of the growth experienced by many African economies over the past decade."Because the world's attention has been focused on migration out of Africa, very little is known about migrant flows in the opposite direction.
But they represent an opportunity for African countries to break free from the patterns of past economic development, which has proved unequal and unsustainable, says Giles Mohan, Professor of International Development, who is leading The Open University's MIAG team.
"The economic downturn revealed the fragility of the growth experienced by many African economies over the past decade.
"Too much of this growth has been based on commodity exports, when recent academic and policy analysis suggests that services may hold the key to future growth.
"The new migrants include entrepreneurs and professionals who bring new finance, knowledge and social networks, with the potential to enhance local capabilities and support inclusive growth.
"Our focus will be on how this can be channelled towards the service sector – education, health, ICT and cultural industries."
Network members will share knowledge through a mix of virtual and face-to-face events called 'evidence cafés', organised by the African partners and supported by The Open University.
MIAG will provide learning material for migrant investors and local policymakers, and briefings and impact strategies for national and international policy-makers, including UK government departments and the four African countries.
"MIAG will provide greater knowledge of how migrant entrepreneurs and professionals can invest effectively in the case study countries, not only in terms of their own businesses but also in terms of supporting the development of local capabilities," said Professor Mohan.