The Effects of Brexit on Africans in the Diaspora

Fredrick Ngugi October 18, 2016
African migrants inside a refugee camp. Afrika News

Four months after the highly contentious Brexit referendum in Europe, when Britain voted to leave the European Union, Africans in the diaspora are starting to feel its effect on their Black-British identities.

A sense of vulnerability still exists among a majority of Black-British residents despite having legal backing of citizenship and residency, according to the Africa at London School of Economics (LSE) blog.

Although a large percentage of Black voters in the referendum wanted to stay in the European Union, a significant number of them voted to leave, due to a sense of discrimination, marginalization, and inequality, LSE MSc candidate Tobi Jaiyesimi.

For these Black voters, the fact that indigenous Europeans in the European Union were eligible for social benefits and high-profile jobs while first- and- second-generation Black migrants were not was a central bone of contention.

It is hoped that Brexit would change the status quo and level the playing field.

But speaking at a recent conference at the Houses of Parliament organized by the Young Pioneers Network, lawyer Tom Lawal warned that the idea that Brexit would open the flood gates for Africans is fundamentally flawed.

Employment Hurdles

While under the new arrangement the issue of the European Economic Area and nationality has been somewhat disposed of, Africans in Britain should not raise their hopes yet since the U.K. immigration system still offers numerous hurdles for African migrants looking for employment.

The U.K. is yet to discuss employment laws enforced by the European Union, which has left Africans worried that some of the laws that protect them against discrimination might be withdrawn.

Currently, African migrants in the European Union have to endure numerous forms of discrimination when searching for employment based on age, religion, and sexuality.

Moving Back to Africa

The Brexit uncertainty has got Africans — both at home and abroad — talking about the possibility of reversing the long-standing brain drain and retaining human capital in Africa.

Many are now looking at the proposed common African Union passport as a possible opportunity for Africans to find employment within Africa.

Experts argue that the passport will facilitate the reallocation of resources as well as address the issues of unemployment and underemployment in many African countries through the transfer of skills and knowledge.

However, the problems of xenophobia, political instability, and overpopulation still remain major obstacles to the realization of free movement in Africa.

This article is based on an article entitled “Brexit was a Wakeup Call for Africans in the Diaspora” on the Africa at LSE blog.

Last Edited by:Charles Gichane Updated: October 18, 2016


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