A political science professor at the University of Ghana is contending the long-held arguments that most Africans migrate to Europe just to seek greener pastures.
Prof. Ransford Gyampo, who is the Director of the Centre for European Studies (CES) at the University, said the major reason that Africans were migrating to Europe to seek greener pastures “seem too simplistic”.
“Evidence abounds to show that quite a number of young people gainfully employed in many African countries still prefer to abandon their jobs at home to join their African migrant counterparts in Europe,” he observed.
Prof. Gyampo was speaking in Accra Friday at the first of a series of lectures in 2018 on the theme “Interrogating the Forces behind Migration from Africa to Europe”.
The lecture was attended by 400 participants comprising students, faculty, civil society, media practitioners, clergy, traditional authorities, parliamentarians, policy makers, Ambassadors, European Union Delegation in Ghana and other EU-Member country representatives in Ghana.
Prof. Gyampo observed Africa and for that matter Ghana, continues to lose its labour force required to contribute to development through migration.
Quoting statistics from the International Organization for Migration, he said there are close to 10 million African-migrants in Europe.
That, he noted has undoubtedly had a negative effect on the quest for development in many African countries including Ghana over the years.
“Yet many young people including students still desire to migrate to Europe after school,” he added.
Prof. Gyampo wondered why many Africans with the requisite educational and professional qualifications, and in some cases gainfully employed, leave their jobs to travel to Europe.
“So, what at all is in Europe that attracts young African migrants there? What are the exact causes of migration, particularly among young people who complete their education and have bright prospects of succeeding in Ghana? What are the effects of migration on countries of origin and host countries?
“What are the experiences of migrants in Europe in terms of human rights and living conditions? How can the problems of migration be reduced?” he quizzed.
According to Prof Gyampo, the lecture on migration was strictly an evidence-based research conducted by one of the astute Adjunct Fellows of CES, to respond to the above and allied questions.
He expressed the hope that the outcomes and general conclusions reached would help students appreciate the key issues of migration and minimize their quest to leave the shores of the country after school.
The Head of the EU Delegation in Ghana, Ambassador William Hanna, commended the CES for its continuous efforts at promoting research and teaching in European Studies.
He said issues of migration are rather complex and require a partnership between the EU, governments and civil society groups in dealing with the challenges imposed by the phenomenon of irregular flight from Africa to Europe.
He called on governments to take full advantage of the trade partnerships between Europe and Africa in order to generate much wealth for development.
He described the numerous deaths and casualties associated with irregular migration as needless and unnecessary dissipation of talents, brains and human resources of many African countries.
‘Irregular migration disturbing’
On his part, Professor Joseph Teye, Adjunct Fellow of CES and Director for the Centre for Migration Studies noted that migration has historically been an integral part of life, but has more recently become a topic of major focus in policy and academic circles.
He said the global stock of international migrants increased from 173 million in 2000 to 247 million in 2016, representing 3.3 per cent of the world’s population.
“In Africa, migration is largely undocumented, making it difficult to provide accurate data on the number of Africans living in other countries. Although more than 60 per cent of African migrants move to destinations within the region, Europe is a major destination of Africans who migrate outside the region,” he said.
He said though the recent increase in the flow of irregular migrants from Africa to Europe has attracted the attention of the media and governments of both African and European countries, there is little understanding of the actual forces behind such movements.
“While poverty has often been blamed for the massive flow of migrants from Africa to Europe, research findings show that irregular migrants are not the poorest in the African society, as very poor people do not have the resources needed to fund international migration,” he said
Professor Teye therefore identified four broad forces behind migration from Africa to Europe, namely predisposing, proximate, precipitating, and mediating drivers.
While migration from Africa to Europe has both positive and negative impacts, Prof Teye noted that the high level of irregular migration is disturbing.
He recommended policies aimed at controlling irregular migration from Africa to Europe.
He argued that strict border control measures alone are bound to fail and that there is a need for African and European governments to work together to address the fundamental inequalities between the two regions.
“There is also a need to address the proximate and precipitating drivers of migration such as poverty, unemployment, environmental hazards, and conflicts. Successful implementation of existing legal migration possibilities, including South-South labour migration within ECOWAS, according to Prof Teye, will also go a long way to reduce irregular migration flows from Africa to Europe,” he said