Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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ASNAKE Kefale, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

The rate of Ethiopia’s international migration (0.7%) is lower than the sub-Saharan African average, 2.5%. There has been, however, a significant rise in outward migration from Ethiopia in recent years. The dominant cause for outward migration from Ethiopia is economic – the desire to have better economic opportunities abroad. The country has a high annual rate of population growth, 2.36%. The population structure of the country, which is highly dominated by youth, also contributes to the growing trend of outward migration. In addition to socio-economic issues (demographic pressures and unemployment), political instability, violence and conflict lead to outward migration. Even if there has been a significant decline in the number of people who leave the country due to political reasons, there are still tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers in neighbouring countries and elsewhere. Using empirical materials generated from a recent study carried out in the four larger regions of the country namely, Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples and the city of Addis Ababa, this paper examines three interrelated issues: (1) motivations for international migration, (2) recent trends in migration and (3) the impact of migration policies. First, the motivations for outward migration from Ethiopia are examined by the proverbial push and pull factors. Some of the major push factors that are examined in the paper include poverty, cultural and attitudinal factors, peer pressure, peer and family pressure, unemployment and landlessness, low wages and advances in information and communication technologies. On the other hand, the pull factors include social, political and economic factors. Second, recent trends in Ethiopia’s outward migration are examined. Among other things, this part of the paper examines – regular and irregular migration, routes of migration and destination countries, socio-economic and gender impacts of migration. Third, the paper examines the impacts of policies that have been adopted by the Ethiopian government to contain irregular/illegal migration and also regularise labour migration to the gulf countries.