Swiss Subsaharan Africa Migration Network


The objective of the Swiss Subsaharan Africa Migration (S-SAM) network is to build and strengthen long-term partnerships between migration researchers in Subsaharan Africa and Switzerland.

The inaugural call was launched in mid 2018, the second call followed in early 2019 (closed 15 April 2019), and a third call in mid 2019 (closed 15 September 2019). Within the large field of human migration, we focus on aspects of migration to Europe before migrants reach their destination. This includes the following topics:

- Reasons and motivations to migrate. Here we seek novel research on the role of limited and contradictory information in decisions to migrate, on aspirations and abilities to migrate, on the nature of different ‘pull’ effects and the choice of destination country, or on the role of information in decisions to migrate. Research may focus on questions of preparations, anticipation of problems ‘en route’ and in the country of destination (e.g. discrimination), or on similarities and differences between South-South and South-North migration.

- Student migration. Here we seek novel research on student migration from Subsaharan Africa to Switzerland and Europe, as a specific motivation to migrate.

- Migration and health. Here we seek novel research on the situation ‘en route’ to Europe, how health affects decisions to migrate (or stay put), how the migration experience itself affects the mental and physical health of migrants, or the migration trajectories of health workers.

Methodologically and with regards to academic discipline, S-SAM is open, but innovative and experimental research is encouraged, as is a focus on social mechanisms.

S-SAM Workshop 2019 in Neuchâtel

We will have a joint workshop at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland on 7 and 8 November 2019. The preliminary programme is here. If you are are not a S-SAM grantee, you are welcome to assist the presentations and the writing workshop (attendance is free): please register by e-mail (didier.ruedin@unine.ch) so that we have enough coffee and sandwiches ready.

Send queries regarding the workshop to: didier.ruedin@unine.ch

Graduate Conference 2019 in Neuchâtel

The S-SAM co-sponsored the Neuchâtel Migration and Mobilities Graduate Conference 2019.

Third Call Now Closed

A third call is now closed. We received many more applications than we can fund and will contact applicants shortly.

Current and Past Projects

  • Bushfalling

    Pilgrims’ Progress: Negotiating bushfalling among Anglophone Cameroonian youth    

    Objective: Using the notion of bushfalling (migration as 'hunting' and bringing trophies to the families back home), this project explores the reasons and motivations of Cameroonian youth bushfalling. What new forms of push factors propel and sustain the notion of bushfalling? Methods: Qualitative ethnographic research methods in a multi-sited approach: in-depth interviews, life histories and non-participant observation of would-be migrants. Use of short films to get informants to tell their stories about motivations to migrate. Expected results: Identify the different pull factors that informs prospective migrants' destination, the role of migration syndicates in determining the destination, and the role Social Media regarding migration.


    Henrietta Mambo Nyamnjoh
    University of Cape Town
    Pilot (6 months)


  • Students

    Social network and student mobility from Côte d’Ivoire to France and Switzerland

    Objective: The objective of this study is to analyse the influence of social networks on Ivorian student mobility to Europe. We examine the influence of the social network on the decision making and the role of the network in the selection of the host countries. Methods: We conduct qualitative interviews with different student migrants at various stages of their migratory project. To capture the role of the social network in the migratory project, we also interview members their family and friend. Expected results: We will provide a better understanding on the different ways the Ivoirian students use their network to realize their project to study abroad. We will identify the main obstacles encountered and the individual and collective strategy adopted by the student to overcome them.  


    Simon Barussaud
    University of Geneva
    Exchange (3 months)


    Franck Dago
    University Félix Houphouet-Boigny
    Pilot (3 months)


  • Non-state Actors

    Understanding the role of Non- state Actors in West African Migration as tools for information dissemination and inclusive policy making

    Objective: In many European countries, governments have established structures for involving non-state actors in the migration policy dialogue (e.g., http://www.mdplatform.ch). This project maps the current interactions between State and non-state actors in migration policy making and implementation in West Africa (where their interaction with state actors is sketchy, ad-hoc and need based), with an emphasis on the role of non-state actors in information dissemination (especially towards potential migrants and returnees) and inclusion in the migration policy dialogue. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with identified state and non-state actors and focus groups (where possible). Interviews will be carried out in Europe and selected West African States. An online survey will be designed for stakeholders that cannot be interviewed. Expected results: Understanding what role non-state actors can play in information dissemination in the society at large, and with that contribute to changing the negative perception of state actors in West Africa on non-state actors, resulting in more inclusive migration governance in the region.


    Amanda Bisong
    University of Nigeria
    Exchange (2 months)

  • Bushfalling 2

    Ambitions of Bushfalling through the Prism of Further Education: Ethnographic Insights from Conversations with Students in Cameroonian Universities.

    Objective: Investigate how much parents are willing to pay or indebt themselves to pay migration agents – “lines” or “connections” – to facilitate the process of their children’s bushfalling to secure admission into universities in Europe. To what extent is education a springboard to migration? Are aspiring migrants simply willing and ready to go anywhere for the sake of migrating, or do they choose and maintain a well-considered path? Methods: Qualitative research methods, multi-sited research. Expected results: The project will provide an understanding of the workings between migration agents and prospective migrant that has potentially changed the course of migration from bush road to normal road. This exploratory research will unpack how migrants who choose to work without the assistance of a migration agent engage the process.


    Henrietta Mambo Nyamnjoh
    University of Cape Town
    Pilot (5 months)

  • Miners

    Disentangling the Mobilities of West-African Men on the Move: “Artisanal Miners” and “Migrants to Europe” in Bamako and Niamey

    Objective: Describe two intertwined mobility dynamics that are often approached by two different strands of research and conceptual frameworks though, in practice, they often mix and overlap in the trajectories of African men on the move: mobile artisanal gold mining and migration to Europe. Methods: Use of problem-centred interviews on the im-mobility trajectory of artisanal gold miners and/or prospective migrants to Europe and/or “returnees” from Europe (and its external borders’ countries). Expected results: Insights on the decision to move to Europe and how it is often made “en route” during pre-migration phases of mobility. Understanding how artisanal mining can be a means to finance further mobility to Europe.

    Matthieu Bolay
    Graduate Institute Geneva
    Pilot (6 months)

  • Ghanaian Students

    Prospective and Returned Ghanaian Migrant Students in the Euro-Afro Migration Experience

    Objective: Investigate to what extent student migration is not really for the acquisition of knowledge but stepping stone towards permanent residency in countries with higher standard of living. Methods:  The qualitative research will be carried out purposively in the five main public universities in Ghana. Expected results: Contribute to the understanding of student migration from Sub Saharan Africa to Europe. Reveal the diversified life projects in terms of motivations and aspirations of prospective and returned Ghanaian student migrants to Europe, including transnational experiences.

    Owusu Key

    Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu Kyei
    Kwame Nkrumah University, Ghana
    Pilot (3 months)

  • Country Choice

    Assessing Choice of Destination and Challenges of South-South Migration among Forced Migrants in Northeastern Nigeria.

    Objective: Assess factors that determine choice of destination among forced migrants in northeastern Nigeria, and examine the challenges faced by migrants on transit. Methods:  Qualitative research methods, in-depth interviews with migrants and migration officials in Nigeria and neighboring Niger republic. Expected results: Reveal the factors that determine migrants' choice of destination especially considering the fact that most Boko Haram induced migrants do not migrate to the global North but stays in Africa. Present the challenges faced by migrants en-route their destinations of choice.


    Lawan Cheri
    University of Maiduguri, Nigeria
    Pilot (6 months)

  • Aspirations Second Generation

    Migration Aspirations of the Second-Generation Immigrants in South Africa

    Objective: Find out why second-generation immigrants in South Africa want to leave the country to more developed countries of Europe and America. Find out the reason for not choosing to return to their 'home' countries instead. Methods: In-depth interviews with second-generation immigrants of different nationalities, age range between 10 and 18 years (with consent by parents and children). Thematic data analysis. Expected results: Research will reveal the migration aspirations of second-generation immigrants. Reasons for their preference for certain countries will be unveiled. It will also unfold the relationship between the decision to migrate and the host’s social, economic, educational and political environments the migrants find themselves.


    Chioma Joyce Onukogu
    University of the Witwatersand
    Exchange (5 months)

  • Border Perceptions

    What You See Is What You Get: Perceptions of European Borders and the Drive to Migrate

    Objective: Investigate the perceptions of (prospective) African migrants of the permeability of European borders and how this contributes to the decision to migrate. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with key informants will be held, based on the snowball sampling method. Interviews will be conducted in selected countries of the Horn of Africa. Expected results: Understanding of the role of people's perceptions and attitudes of European borders play in decisions to migrate. Clearer understanding why irregular migration towards Europe seems unmanageable.


    Christopher Changwe Nshimbi
    University of Pretoria
    Pilot (6 months)

  • Students' Ambitions

    Migrant Aspirations of Stellenbosch University Students


    Anouk Jasmine Albien
    University of Bern
    Exchange (7 months)

  • Uncertainty Decisions

    'Uncertainties', 'exceptions'  and 'information links' of youth migration within and from ECOWAS region to Europe


    Mary Setrana
    University of Ghana
    Pilot (3 months)

  • Decide Destination

    Understanding the key driving forces of the intention to migrate to a preferred destination of students from Sub-Saharan African Countries : A case study of Benin


    Kadoukpè Gildas Magbonde
    University of Gaston Berger
    Pilot (5 months)

  • Trust Decisions

    The role of trust and misinformation in decision to migrate to Europe


    Precious Oghale Diagboya
    University of Ibadan
    Pilot (6 months)

  • Sources Destinations

    Improving Sources and Access to Informed Decisions: Ghanaian Youth Migration to Europe through North Africa


    Elizabeth Nana Mbrah Koomson
    Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
    Pilot (3 months)

  • Policies Aspirations

    Making or breaking migrants: the role of regional migration policies in migration decision making and aspirations


    Amanda Bisong
    University of Nigeria
    Pilot (6 months)

  • Aspirations Second Generation 2

    Aspirations and Capabilities to Migrate: The Role of Family Resources in Achieving Second- Generation Immigrants' Migration Aspirations in Johannesburg.


    Chioma Joyce Onukogu
    University of the Witwatersrand
    Pilot (6 months)

  • Students Europe

    Fulfilling or Shattering Dreams of Ghanaian Student Migrants in the Netherlands


    Justice Richard Kwabena Owusu Kyei
    Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
    Pilot (3 months)

Mailing List

To sign up to the S-SAM mailinglist be notified about further calls and other announcements, or if you want to know more about S-SAM, please send an e-mail didier.ruedin@unine.ch.

S-SAM is funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) through Leading House for sub-Saharan Africa at the Swiss TPH.

Last modified: 4 October 2019