Migration and Development in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for National and Regional Development
Professor Takyiwaa Manuh (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana)
Thursday, 21 September 2006, 4pm to 5.30pm
Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford
Hosted by International Migration Institute
In this keynote, Manuh presents a broad overview of contemporary migrations within and from Africa with a focus on the challenges and opportunities for national and regional development. While hardly a week passes without media headlines on boat loads of desperate young men drowning at sea or landing at sites in Spain or the Canary Islands, where they face imminent deportation, the paper contends that the majority of African migrations is inter- and intra-regional, with immense benefits for both sending and recipient states. However inter-regional migration is threatened by failing economies, massive unemployment, especially of the youth, conflict, rising xenophobia and increasing practices of exclusion. A key challenge for most states is the increasing emigration of skilled personnel, particularly healthcare workers, in the wake of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in many African countries. Such emigration threatens to derail progress made in health care and educational systems, and compromises the ability to attain the Millennium Development Goals in health, education and poverty reduction. At the same time, states and households are reaping benefits in the form of increased remittances, both financial and social, and there are ongoing debates about the role of migrants in national development. New African Diasporas are emerging in Europe and North America that do not always correspond to colonial histories and the linguistic patterns established thereunder, and transnationalism is becoming a way of life for increasing numbers of African facilitated by improved communication, transport and other facets of globalization. The paper analyzes national and regional policies on migration; bilateral and multilateral agreements on its management, particularly in the prevention of irregular migration and trafficking of persons. The paper concludes with a call for fairer trade regimes to reduce emigration pressures in Africa, ethical recruitment practices and compensatory mechanisms, measures to retain skilled nationals, and collaboration within the South and with the North on sharing experiences and best practices, training and capacity-building of officials, and improvement in research and management of data.