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Table 1 Three Sub-Saharan migration systems

From: Three sub-Saharan migration systems in times of policy restriction

Quantitative data on sub-Saharan migration is scarce. Rather than covering the whole continent, this paper focuses on the study of three Afro-European migration systems on which detailed data could be collected both in origin and destination countries.
The three African countries (DR Congo, Ghana, Senegal) were chosen for two reasons. First, their migrants constitute three major “African diasporas” (Koser 2003): according to OECD data, they represented three of the four largest sub-Saharan populations in Europe when the MAFE project started (2008). Second, they offer contrasted contexts that allow interesting comparisons. They have different histories, with distinct colonial backgrounds, which implies different official languages and initial migration regimes. They experienced different political histories since decolonization, with a very stable country, such as Senegal, contrasting with the political and military unrest in DR Congo since the early 1990s. The three countries also differ in their ecological conditions, Senegal being subject to severe droughts since the mid-1970s, while DR Congo is an equatorial country, and Ghana being in an intermediary geographical position. Finally, the three countries experienced contrasted economic trajectories, especially since the early 1980s. At that time, the Congolese and Ghanaian GDP per capita that were so far equivalent (around 350 USD in 1985) drastically diverged, with a steep decrease of the former (down to 150 USD in 2010) and a steady increase of the later (up to 600 USD in 2010). Over the same period, the Senegalese GDP per capita fluctuated from 700 USD in 1985 down to 635 in 1994 and up to 800 USD in 2010 (source: The World Bank, World Development Indicators extracted from the MAFE contextual database).
In our design, each migration system is divided into two sub-systems linking an origin country with specific destinations in Europe. One sub-system relates to the historical corridor, which links a specific African country to its traditional destination in Europe, ie. its former colonial metropolis (France for Senegal, the UK for Ghana, Belgium for Congo). In these cases, African migration flows to Europe started before decolonization and continued afterwards, thanks to established migrants networks, cultural links rooted in colonization (same official language, similar education system), and bilateral agreements pertaining to economic exchanges and migration (Garson 1992). The other sub-systems relate to new corridors that link each origin country in Africa to one or two new destinations in Europe (the UK for Congo, the Netherlands for Ghana, Spain and Italy for Senegal). These destinations were chosen because they attract a significant number of migrants and because they display features distinct from the historical destination, especially in matters of migration policies, economic context, and sociocultural conditions (especially language and education system).