More Ghanaians living abroad unregistered — Hannah Tetteh

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
It is common knowledge that irregular migration has become a thorny issue which various countries are grappling with. It poses multiple challenges to countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as to the migrants themselves

Ghana’s Foreign Ministry is worried about the unregistered Ghanaian migrants abroad, especially in Europe, sector minister Ms Hannah Tetteh said in an interview.

She cited the case of the Netherlands which has only 20,000 Ghanaian residents registered with the Ghanaian embassy.

She said Germany, which is supposed to have a higher number of migrants, had 70,000 registered with the country’s embassy, out of which about half had dropped their Ghanaian nationality to become German citizens, because Germany does not allow dual citizenship. 

These statements were made after the launch of Ghana’s National Migration Policy (NMP), targeted at helping to manage its internal, intra-regional and international migration flows for poverty reduction and sustained national development.

The NMP, with an objective to promote and protect the interests, rights, security and welfare of citizens and migrants within and outside Ghana, has been drafted along frameworks including the 2006 African Union Strategic Framework for Migration, the ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration, the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II (2014-2017).

Experts say the NMP signifies a major step by government to provide a comprehensive framework to manage migration for Ghana’s sustainable development.

Migration 

Most international migrants are of working age. In 2015, 177 million of them, representing 72 per cent, were between ages 20 to 64, according to data by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Again, the United Nations Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration defines an international migrant as any person who changes his or her country of usual residence. Such a migrant who changes his or her place of usual residence for at least one year is defined as a long-term migrant, while a person who changes his or her place of usual residence for more than three months but less than one year is considered to be a short-term migrant. 

In practice, national definitions and methods of data collection vary. Out of the 45 countries with data on immigration flows, only 24 identify international migrants as persons who plan to stay for at least one year and, among them, five countries apply a different time criterion to identify sub-groups of migrants. Twelve countries describe migrants as persons establishing permanent residence, which usually implies having an open-ended permission to stay. 

Also, statistics of migrant inflows and outflows also differ according to the criteria used to identify the country of origin or destination of the migrant. For migrant inflows, time series information is available by country of previous residence for 43 countries, by country of citizenship for 36 countries, and by country of birth for one. For migrant outflows, this dataset includes 44 countries where the data is based on the country of next residence and 37 countries where the emigration flows are estimated on the basis of country of citizenship.

Economic impact

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international economic organisation of 34 countries, migrants accounted for 47 per cent of the increase in the workforce in the United States and 70 per cent in Europe over the past 10 years. Migrants contribute significantly to labour market flexibility, notably in Europe. 

Migrants contribute more in taxes and social contributions than they receive in benefits. Migration boosts the working-age population. Migrants arrive with skills and contribute to human capital development of receiving countries.  

President on migration: A speech read on behalf of President John Mahama at the launch of the policy said the drive to search for alternative sources of livelihood served as a pull factor for the youth especially, to migrate through irregular means to engage in menial jobs in North Africa and Europe.

“It is common knowledge that irregular migration has become a thorny issue which various countries are grappling with. It poses multiple challenges to countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as to the migrants themselves,” he said.