Project Summary

Migrations across West Africa are generally driven by ecological survival and commerce. Since the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975, migrants take advantage of the 90 days free movement of persons across West Africa for seasonal employment, education, trade, while others resettle permanently or move across the sub-region as a gateway to other geographic regions. There is minimal documented evidence on how this plays out in the West African sub-region that is governed by the ECOWAS protocols on free movement and economic trade, in the contexts of youth and informal labour. This project focuses on the multidirectional processes of social integration in destination contexts and their effects on the formation of new identities and relationality.

The study will attempt to address the following research questions:

– How does mobility and migration shape urban processes and everyday life across the West African sub-region? Who and what moves? Why?
– What are the constraints and enablers of mobility and migrations? What are the benefits and demerits?
– How does it impact culture and social identities?


The objectives of the study have been modified according to the suggestions of the assessors and revised scope as follows:
i. Map traditional and emerging socio-economic flows and routes of youth and informal labour across West African cities.
ii. Identify the determinants, enablers and constraints of youth and informal labour migrations across selected cities in the West African sub-region.
iii. Ascertain the contexts of diversity in terms of gender, religion and other socio-economic factors in acculturation and (re)identities of migrants.
iv. Appraise existing ECOWAS protocols vis a vis study findings of (i – iii above)

Work Packages

To achieve the specific objectives of this study, this research will be based on two work packages
Work Package 1
  • Acculturations: Focus on ethnic enclaves, religion, gender, language and political behaviour.
  • Lagos Project – focus on Mazamaza and Lagos Island – isolate various enclaves within them and trace them to Cotonou – Jounqet and Gbegame
Work Package 2
  • Economics: Focus on informal labour, trade and operationalizing ECOWAS policy frameworks.
     Informal Artisans and Labour – construction industry, fashion and tailoring
  • Lagos to Cotonou – market routes and trade in good and services


  • Development of an empirical database of migration and mobility patterns and processes across four West African countries, using a lens of cross-cutting socio-economic, socio-political and cultural indicators.  
  • Comparative assessment of effects of relevant ECOWAS policies across Anglophone and francophone divides.
  • Establishing Linkages between everyday life of migrants and learnings for understanding diaspora African enclaves.
  • Documentary series across cities and various thematic dimensions 
  • A photographic exhibition 
  • Dissemination of Policy briefs.
  • West African Mobilities Maps
  • Policy Briefs and Position papers 
  • Roundtable discussions and policy stakeholders workshop
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