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The Important Role Smartphones Play in Africans Migrating

For undocumented migrants and refugees, accurate information is vital. Because of this, smartphones – mobile phones that perform many of the functions of a computer, like accessing the internet – have become an important tool. They give migrants access to applications such as Google maps, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. These can provide them with information from social media and close contacts. In a recent study, researchers investigated the role of smartphones in irregular migration. They wanted to know how they helped migrants reach their destination and what kind of information migrants accessed using them. Our focus was on sub-Saharan migrants arriving in Morocco, specifically in the city of Fès, on their way to Europe. We found that smartphones supported migration flows by providing migrants with access to online information before and during travel and when they arrived at their destination country. They affected their migration routes and choice of final destination. They also helped migrants to share information with each other. The smartphones were equally used by traffickers. They allowed them to contact prospective irregular migrants and provide them with information.