Most African migrants do not leave Africa. Here’s what that looks like.

Far from its home in the Republic of Congo, Harvest-Spring Kibonge represents a cookie-cutter immigrant success story. He was educated in Senegal and then started a business with a modest open-air smoothie shop on one of the lively beaches of the capital.

Mr Kibonge is one of 25 million Africans who have moved to another country on the continent by 2017, almost double the 2008 count. It is also a number that dwarfs those who move to Europe, who destination for less than a fifth of African emigrants.

Why we wrote this

Western countries are increasingly hardening their borders and closing legal routes for migration from Africa. But the majority of those who leave an African country remain on the continent, where reception in their new home is often mixed.

Caroline Zickgraf, migration researcher at the Belgian University of Liège, wonders how European policymakers can “understand or design or discuss policy if you’re not talking about the most common forms of movement.”

According to United Nations estimates, a quarter of the world’s population will be African by 2050, meaning the biggest questions for global migration will likely be on the continent itself.

But in recent decades, migration within Africa has been fraught with tensions, especially as self-developing countries struggle to integrate newcomers.

Still, such obstacles are unlikely to seriously deter potential migrants. At his smoothieshack, Mr. Kibonge looks over the crowded beach on a sunny Saturday morning.

“The energy, the people, the beaches, the atmosphere,” he says. “That keeps me here.”

DAKAR, SENEGAL

On a stretch of sandy beach tucked under one of Dakar’s coastal cliffs, Harvest-Spring Kibonge has an unassuming open-air smoothie shop. The crashing waves play a melodious rhythm and every evening the sunset paints a pink and orange sky over the Senegalese capital.

Although he is far from home in the Republic of Congo, immigrating to Senegal has served him well. In Dakar, he was educated and started a prosperous business – a success story of immigrant cookie cutters.

“I go where the money goes,” he says, a mantra familiar to emigrants all over the world.

Why we wrote this

Western countries are increasingly hardening their borders and closing legal routes for migration from Africa. But the majority of those who leave an African country remain on the continent, where reception in their new home is often mixed.

While Western headlines about African migration are often fixated on people entering Europe illegally, Mr. Kibonge is a different kind of African migrant – the majority.

He is one of approximately 25 million Africans who had moved to another country on the continent in 2017, a number that has grown steadily from 13 million since 2008. Despite alarming headlines in the West, less than a fifth of Africans who move their country leaving their way to Europe.