EU states should adopt more flexible visa regimes and effective migration partnerships with African countries in addressing the challenge of irregular migration from Africa.

The UN Agenda 2030 and the Global Compact for Migration have all emphasized the need for safe, orderly and regular migration across the globe.

In the wake of a surge in irregular migration from, especially sub-Saharan Africa, the EU and some of its member states have made efforts including migration partnership agreements with some African countries in the quest for better migration management and to address the dangers of irregular migration.

Speaking as a panelist, as part of a roundtable discussion on migration in Africa and Europe at the German Parliament on Wednesday, Dr. Adaawen, who is a German-based Ghanaian expert and international consultant on migration and development, highlighted the fact that migration presented opportunities for many people and was indeed an important aspect of social life in Africa.

He noted that African mobilities were not only characterized by mass displacement and movement of people driven by poverty, violent conflicts and misery as constantly projected by international media and political discussions. But that mobility on the continent was generally characterized by mixed migrations involving both economic migrants and refugees with the drivers being manifold.

While admitting that extra-continental migration African migrants and refugees to the EU and other western countries have been on the increase, he stressed that the majority of migrants and refugees actually reside on the African continent with 4 out of every 5 international migrants often originating from the same region.

Amidst ongoing efforts by the EU and African partners in enhancing better migration management from Africa, Dr. Adaawen was of the view that the seeming externalization of European borders as reflected in migration and border  control, and monetary incentives as part of migration partnerships across the continent are counterproductive as they further exacerbate local circumstances that tend to be precursors for irregular migration or immobility.

Whereas the orientation at the continental level is towards a common passport and free movement as part of the AU’s agenda 2063, the EU’s cooperation with the 5 priority countries as part of the migration partnership framework seemed to place more emphasis on migration control, return, re-admission and re-integration. However, in noting that migration was mutually beneficial to both African and EU countries, he called for a more flexible visa regime to facilitate circular migration, as well as access to EU labour or job markets, and more study and vocational training opportunities for Africa immigrants.

In sharing similar observations as a co-panelist, Dr. Steffen Angenendt, who is the head of the research division and migration expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, presented some statistics to dispel misrepresentations that African immigration into the EU was on the high but that intra-continental mobility was rather pronounced. He emphasized that migration and development were inexorably interlinked.

As such, more favorable economic partnerships and strategic investment in African countries as part of development cooperation would stimulate economic growth and more employment opportunities in addressing chronic youth unemployment in Africa. With the new German immigration law on the immigration of skilled migrants from countries outside of the EU, he noted that it would be a win-win for both African countries and Germany.

In line with this, Dr. Adaawen argued that the “Triple Win” program of GIZ on the recruitment of nurses from Serbia, Bosnia-Herzogovinia, the Philipines and Tunisia could, for example, could be extended  to African countries like Ghana where the government and health sector was finding it difficult to absorb the teeming qualified nurses that were constantly being churned out every year. This could be systematically designed through development cooperation to be a win-win arrangement while also promoting circular migration and the overall resolve for safe, orderly and regular migration for sustainable development. 

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