AD307: Young and educated Ugandans are most likely to consider emigration

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Derick Msafiri and Ronald Makanga

Migration has marked Uganda as a country of destination and transit as well as of origin. Responding to political violence, economic problems, and humanitarian crises both within its borders and in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and other neighbouring countries, migrants and refugees have traveled to, through, and out of Uganda in large numbers over the years. As of April 2018, estimates of refugees living in Uganda stood at about 1.4 million – more than any other African country. While data are sketchy, a 2013 estimate placed the number of Ugandans living abroad at about 629,000 but noted that the diaspora could be as large as 3 million (International Organization for Migration, 2015, 2018a, 2018b).

With one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations and high unemployment, providing education and job opportunities is a persistent challenge (Among & Munavu, 2019). Out-migration has had a particularly negative impact on the health sector, which has lost many trained professionals looking for better employment opportunities in Rwanda, South Africa, or elsewhere (World Bank, 2016; New Vision, 2018).

According to the most recent Afrobarometer survey in Uganda, about one-third of Ugandans have considered emigration to other countries, although far fewer are actually making plans to leave. Young and educated citizens are among the most likely to consider moving abroad. Among potential emigrants, the largest number say they would move to another country within the East African region, generally in search of economic opportunity.