Skilled Ghanaians Increasing Look to Countries Outside of Africa for Work, IOM Migration Profile Finds

A migration profile of Ghana released today by IOM finds that a
combination of a growing and increasingly educated Ghanaian labour
force, a lack of employment opportunities for young people and the
decline of Nigeria as a major destination for Ghanaians has led to
increasing migration to countries outside of West Africa with
worrying implications for key sectors.

The profile, the latest in a series to be released on 10 West
African countries to help national governments devise and develop
effective migration policy, found that although 71 per cent of
Ghanaian migrants stay in West Africa, a growing number of
Ghanaians are now to be found outside the region. Ghananian
migrants can be found in 33 countries worldwide.

The United States and the United Kingdom are the two most
important destination countries for Ghanaians outside of West
Africa, with 7.3 per cent and 5.9 per cent of Ghanaian migrants in
these two countries respectively.

The report found that skilled migration, especially to developed
countries in the north, has been accelerating since 1990. Ghana has
the highest emigration rates for highly skilled people in West
Africa (46 per cent), exacerbating labour shortages in critical
sectors such as health and education.

The medical profession is particularly affected. It is estimated
that more than 56 per cent of doctors and 24 per cent of nurses
trained in Ghana are now working abroad. In education, more than 60
per cent of faculty positions at polytechnics and 40 per cent at
public universities are vacant.

A lack of career development and poor working conditions are the
main drivers of skilled emigration and although the government has
introduced measures to improve pay for health professionals, income
differentials with western countries are too large to compete. One
study in 2004 found that wage differentials between nurses in Ghana
and counterparts in Canada and Australia were 14 times as much. For
doctors, they were 25 times as much.

The IOM profile also found that with more young Ghanaians
entering the labour market than before and with an annual increase
of the labour force projected at 2.9 per cent over the next 15
years, the pressure to migrate may increase unless employment
opportunities for the young improve.

With an increasingly educated population, skilled emigration
will be remain a key policy concern for Ghana.

A positive impact of growing emigration is the dramatic increase
in official remittance flows to Ghana. The Bank of Ghana estimates
that remittances increased from USD 476 million in 1999 to USD 1.9
billion in 2008.  However, the economic crisis has taken its
toll with the Bank reporting a 7.3 per cent decrease in remittances
in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in

Nevertheless, the report recommends the need to create and
maintain links with a diaspora estimated to range from anywhere
between 1.5 million to 3 million Ghanaians in order to tap into
their potential and to benefit from skills transfer, investment
opportunities and remittances.

Other migration trends identified by the IOM profile, which is
funded by the European Union, the Belgian Development Cooperation
and the Swiss Federal Office for Migration, includes the growing
incidence of return or circular migration. Of the more than 1.1
million Ghanaians who left the country between 2000-2007, only
153,000 did not return either temporarily or permanently.

And while emigration is increasing faster than immigration,
Ghana nevertheless continues to be an important country of
destination. Migrants from predominantly ECOWAS countries are
attracted by its relative peace, security and political

For further information, please contact:

Jobst Koehler

IOM Geneva

Tel: + 41 22 717 9260

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