Challenges of the Migration and Integration of Ethiopian Entrepreneurs to South Africa

Yordanos Estifanos, Tanya Zack and Kudakwashe P. Vanyoro (2019). ‘Challenges of the Migration and Integration of Ethiopian Entrepreneurs to South Africa‘, ACMS Policy Brief, July.

The various routes of migration – resources, networks, formal and less formal agents and the capacity of individuals undertaking the migration journey – as well as their motivation for migrating from Ethiopia to South Africa are not well understood. Yet, this inquiry could offer important insights into the base factors of migration within this ethnic entrepreneurial community. This study, undertaken under the auspices of the Migrating Out of Poverty Research Consortium (MOOP) at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) explored the migration industry that attends the migration of Ethiopians to South Africa. The study explored these issues through qualitative research that included long form interviews with 40 Ethiopian migrant entrepreneurs in Johannesburg and Durban. This was supplemented with desktop research and key informant interviews.

The study found that a large number of Ethiopians migrate to South Africa to escape political and economic hardship. Many settle in metropolitan areas as well as in rural towns and villages as entrepreneurs. Their migration is irregular and they navigate extreme border restrictions and dangerous terrain in order to make the journey. They rely on smuggling as well as social networks. Once in South Africa these migrants face considerable risks that include crime, harassment and xenophobic attacks.

About Kuda Vanyoro

Kudakwashe Vanyoro is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa interested in migration, temporality, borders, humanitarianism and governance in Africa. His doctoral research explored how temporal disruptions at international borders shape (im) mobile bodies’ experiences and modes of waiting by focusing on irregular Zimbabwean migrant men at the Zimbabwe-South Africa border who have arrived in South Africa but are restricted in moving further into the interior. Through this inquiry, his work reveals how waiting is a component of both governing Zimbabwean migrants as well as seeking agency through the relationship between time, space, and humanitarianism in the Zimbabwe-South Africa border regime. He has also been conducting research uptake work for ACMS since 2014. As part of this role, Kudakwashe is responsible for stakeholder engagement in South Africa and is regularly called upon to brief decision-makers in government and civil society, including the creation of synthesis documents and other communication products to make evidence more accessible and applicable.