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Managing labour migration to promote Ghana’s development

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
File photo
File photo

Those who are social media savvy might have come across one trending phrase among Ghanaian netizens tagged “the dream is to stay abroad and pray for Ghana.”

As the name implies, proponents of the phrase are people who do not want to stay or work in Ghana but are concerned about Ghana’s development and therefore want to travel abroad and when they are abroad, they will offer prayers for Ghana.

For the believers of this concept (the dream is to stay abroad and pray for Ghana), staying in Ghana is not part of their agenda. What they think they can offer as citizens is their prayers. As funny as the phrase may sound in people’s ears, this is not a laughing matter at all. Why am I saying that it is not a laughing matter? If promoters of this concept are able to influence many Ghanaians to believe in this, particularly the youth, it will not be difficult to predict the looming doom for Ghana.

This concept of staying abroad and praying for Ghana has so many negative consequences for Ghana’s development—brain drain. Brain drain can cause serious damages to any economy if it is not checked. The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) recently expressed concerns over the number of medical professionals leaving the country to seek greener pastures abroad.

The General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Titus Beyuo, who was speaking on the New Day show on TV3 on Wednesday May 11, 2022, said medical doctors and nurses are leaving the country in droves.

He said, “…as we speak, doctors, nurses are leaving this country in droves, brain drain has returned in full swing…I know that because I am the General Secretary of the GMA, I won’t give you figures immediately” he said when asked by the host of the show to mention how many people have left the country so far.

Dr Beyuo revealed that five doctors in one unit of a certain “big hospital” in Accra had left since the beginning of 2022, calling for urgent actions to be taken to check the growing danger.

“We need to do something about it,” he passionately urged duty bearers and stakeholders in the medical profession to find workable solution to the menace.

Like what the medical profession is facing, many other sectors of the economy are also facing similar situations.

Migration is increasingly recognised as a major human development issue which if effectively managed and harnessed could contribute to socioeconomic transformation in developed and developing countries.

Even though migration is an important tool for national development, if not well managed could negatively affect any society, particularly when the skilled workforce leave the country in search of opportunities elsewhere.

The question therefore becomes “how do we keep our skilled labour in the country and not compel them to leave for abroad and only pray for Ghana? Keeping our skilled labour home means that we need to provide them with the opportunities they travel abroad to get—good working conditions and needed logistics to work with.

When people begin to feel that there is no future in their own countries that is when many of them conceive the idea to migrate to places where they think will help them to fulfil their dreams. The worrying thing is that these are professionals whose training were partly sponsored by the state and are leaving with their skills to other countries that did not contribute to their training.

It is therefore important for the government to address this labour migration that is carrying away the skilled labour force of the country to Europe, Asia and Americas.

Even though some of our skilled labour had left the country already, we need to create opportunities to entice them to come back. Similarly, we could create windows where these skilled labour who had left the country could still contribute to the development of the country for our shared prosperity?

For instance, in 2016, the government introduced its migration policy, the National Migration Policy (NMP) as a bold attempt to provide a comprehensive framework to manage migration for Ghana's sustainable development.

The NMP has been formulated against the backdrop of several policy frameworks including the Constitution of Ghana and the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II (2014-2017). It is anchored within the context of the 2006 African Union (AU) Strategic Framework for Migration and the 2008 ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration.

Even though the police sought to address many migration challenges including labour migration, we need to aggressively implement the migration policy so as to enable our country to check the negatives associated with migration and promote issues that bring in revenue from migration.

Ghana needs not only the prayers of its youth, it needs their minds and physical contributions to help build the country. After all, faith without works has no effect as the Bible puts it.