Migration and Markets in Agadez: Economic alternatives to the migration industry

Conflict Research Unit of Clingendael Institute

This is an output from a project that was part of the fifth Applied Research Fund (ARF) on mixed migration flows. The ARF is executed by NWO-WOTRO in close collaboration with the Platform. The call aims to strengthen the evidence-base for security and rule of law policies and programming, addressing the root causes, and the dynamics and consequences of mixed migration flows within and from fragile and conflict-affected settings.

This report situates the migration industry of Agadez in the broader context of the town’s political economy. After providing a brief economic overview, the report maps out the value chain of migration in Agadez and shows its multiple linkages with other sectors in the economy. It subsequently explores how the implementation of the 2015 Law Against Illicit Smuggling of Migrants in late 2016 — supported by European Union funding and capacity building programs — affected the economy in general and people’s livelihoods in particular. Given the migration industry’s deep entanglement with people’s livelihoods, the criminalisation of northbound migration robbed large parts of the population of an important source of income. Evidence suggests that the crackdown on migration also exacerbated feelings of marginalisation, tensions between groups and mistrust vis-à- vis state authorities. Any reduction in outbound migration flows through Agadez can be sustained only if alternative income-generating opportunities will materialise in the immediate future. The report offers three sets of recommendations showing concrete ways to leverage the region’s existing potential: to create economic opportunities in the short term, to work towards an enabling business environment and to design support measures in a conflict-sensitive manner.

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