A two-day conference has begun at the conference hall of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana to discuss how countries, particularly in Africa could deal with migration and mobility issues.
The conference, organised jointly by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) would discuss among other things, migration and rural-urban development, migration policy and governance, and environmental and natural resources.
Other topics include conflict, forced migration and international policy, determinants of migration, migration within Africa: defining the governance challenge; remittances and family left behind; immigration integration, transnationalism and societal relations among sub-Saharan African immigrants, as well as understanding the root causes of migration.
UNU-WIDER is a global think tank providing independent and interdisciplinary research, analysis and policy advice on global issues with the aim of promoting sustainable and equitable development while ARUA is a network of universities from different countries and different historical backgrounds that seek to expand and enhance significantly the quality of research done in Africa by African researchers.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Vice President of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said migration and mobility are major human development issues and are increasingly key facets in the globalised world.
He said Ghana as a country that strongly believes in the values of the United Nations (UN) is concerned about the impacts of migration, noting that the country would continue to institute policies to check migration.
He said people migrate due to varied reasons, explaining that socially excluded people are likely to migrate from their communities to other places.
“You would also see that people who feel excluded are more likely to move out of their communities either South-South or South-North”, he said.
Dr Bawumia therefore expressed the optimism that the diverse background of the participants and speakers at the conference would help to bring out ideas and concepts that would help policy makers and leaders look at migration issues critically for national development.
In an interview, the Director of UNU-WIDER, Professor Finn Tarp said migration and mobility are critical elements of the development process, adding that movement of people has always been with human history and plays essential role in development.
He explained that although migration has both negative and positive sides, countries could manage it properly and effectively in order to harness the benefits it offers.
He added that both the source and destination countries of migrants could benefit from migration if it is well managed.
Professor Tarp, nevertheless, expressed the concern that issues on South-South migration has not received much attention as South-North migration.
He added that the conference would focus mainly on South-South migration, adding that “We must not lose sight of the importance of the south-south which is very closely linked to development process”.
He explained that the number of people moving from South-South was much bigger than the number of people moving South-North, however, he said although the conference would focus mainly on South-South migration, it was not to say that South-North migration was not important.
Professor Tarp said some of the outcomes of the conference would be published in books and journals to help influence policy making.
The Chairperson of UNU-WIDER, Professor Ernest Aryeetey said the conference would help create thorough understanding of migration issues.
He said the conference was not going to be used to delve into issues as whether migration is good or bad, but to ensure that the cost and benefits of migration are properly reflected through policy.
He added that the conference would also delve into issues that would ensure that the benefits of migration far outweighs the cost of migration.
Professor Aryeetey expressed worry that Ghana has no proper tracking system to monitor the number of people who travelled out of the country using the Sahara Desert.
That, he said, calls for a way of measuring the number of Ghanaians who use the Sahara Desert to migrate to other areas in order to effectively check the impacts of migration on the country.