Financial remittances are one of the chief positive aspects of migration.
Photo: S. Torfinn/laif
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Migration dynamics in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa are mainly associated with rural exodus and rapid urbanisation, which often goes along with high crime rates and social conflicts. Rural areas are expected to be depopulated in the long run. But is this perception of migration in the context of African rural areas actually justified?

At first glance, statistics on global demographic trends seem to support the general notion of rapidly growing urban areas and deserted rural areas. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), 2008 was the first year in the history of humankind when more people were living in urban areas than in rural areas. The share of people living in cities and towns increased globally by about 125 per cent from 1960 to 2014. Today, more than 360 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in urban areas. This number is expected to reach one billion by 2050. Globally, the share of urban population had already totalled about 3.5 billion by 2015. 

Urbanisation myths – a reality check

In particular in the African context, rapid urbanisation has ever met the scepticism of policy-makers as increased crime rates, urban sprawl, fast growth of slum areas or even riots were – and still are – expected as potential consequences.

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