Centre For European Studies (CES) Holds First Lecture Series For 2018 On Migration from Africa to Europe

(From left to right: Ambassador William Hanna, Head of EU Delegation in Ghana, Prof. Gyampo, Director, CES, Ambassador Alicia Rico, Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Giovanni Favilli, Director for the Centre for Migration Studies)

The Centre for European Studies (CES) held its first lecture series for 2018 on the theme “Interrogating the Forces behind Migration from Africa to Europe”. The event took place on Friday, March16, 2018 at the Kofi Drah Conference Hall of the Department of Political Science, University of Ghana. There were approximately 400 participants in attendance comprising students, faculty, civil society, media practitioners, clergy, traditional authorities, parliamentarians, policy makers, ambassadors, European Union Delegation in Ghana and other European Union - Member country representatives in Ghana.

In a welcome address, Professor Ransford Gyampo, Director for the Centre noted that in 2017, the CES held six lecture series on critical and topical issues relating to European Studies. He added that this generated interest and understanding among students and other key stakeholders on matters relating to Europe. According to Professor Gyampo, the Centre would continue its lecture series this year by conducting more research into other topical issues of European Studies, one of which is Migration.

He added that Africa and for that matter, Ghana continue to lose her labour force required to contribute to development through migration. The International Organization for Migration estimates close to ten million African-migrants in Europe. This, according to the CES Director, has undoubtedly had negative effect on the quest for development in many African countries including Ghana over the years. Professor Gyampo indicated that in spite of the dangers of migration, many young people including students still desire to migrate to Europe after school.

Professor Ransford Gyampo, Director, Centre for European Studies

According to Professor Gyampo, the search for greener pastures as a major reason for migration seem simplistic as 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. This lecture aimed at finding responses to the following questions: what is in Europe that attracts young African migrants? 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?  According to Professor 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 questions. He expressed hope that the outcomes and 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 Chairperson of the Lecture, Her Excellency Alicia Rico, Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, in a brief remark, noted that the chosen theme for the lecture was timely and stressed the need for students to be abreast with the key issues and dangers of migration to the individual, countries of origin and host countries. She commended the CES for their initiatives in promoting European Studies and pledged her support for the Centre’s activities.

Ambassador Alicia Rico, Spanish Ambassador to Ghana delivering her remarks as Chairperson

Head of the European Union Delegation, Ambassador William Hanna commended the CES for its continuous efforts at promoting teaching and research in European Studies. He noted that the issues of migration are rather complex and require collaborative efforts from the European Union, governments and civil society in dealing with the challenges posed by the phenomenon of irregular flight from Africa to Europe. He called on governments to take 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.

In his presentation, 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 indicated that 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. He added that in Africa, migration is largely undocumented, making it difficult to provide accurate data on the number of Africans living in other countries. According to Professor Teye, 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 added the while 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.

Prof. Joseph Teye (extreme left) delivering his research findings. Also on the High Table were the Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Giovanni Favilli (middle) and Head of EU Delegation in Ghana, William Hanna (right)

Professor Teye emphasized that 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 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, Professor Teye noted that the high level of irregular migration is disturbing. He outlined some of the grueling dangers and challenges of African migrants in host countries in addition to the losses incurred by the countries of origin of migrants. 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. He further indicated the 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.

The lecture generated intense discussions among students and stakeholders with EU-Member country representatives sharing their experience and perspectives on the issues. Student participants expressed gratitude to the Centre for the opportunity to be educated and sensitized on the issues. They called on governments to deal with the core factors that push young people to Europe and undermine the quest for a strong labor force to power developmental efforts in Africa. They also called on the European Union to work out some modalities that provide channels to make legal migration possible by providing short-term guest worker programmes for young people who graduate from school in Africa. This in their view, could grant the needed travel experience to students and douse their intense desire to travel out immediately after school.

Some participants at the event

In brief closing remarks, the Spanish Ambassador applauded the candor and frankness of students in discussing the issues raised in the presentation. She called on all stakeholders to consider the policy recommendations articulated in the lecture seriously to minimize irregular migration and ensure that Africa’s human resource base is not unnecessarily depleted to perpetuate poverty among the people of the continent. Ambassador Alicia Rico once again thanked the Centre for European Studies for its pioneering role as the only Centre for European Studies in the whole of West Africa. She pledged a deepened collaboration between the Spanish Embassy and the Centre.

Photo Gallery of Participants