The Ghana migration profile which was released Friday January 8, 2009 said trained Ghanaians are seeking jobs outside the country because of lack of employment opportunities for young people and “the decline of Nigeria as a major destination for Ghanaians.”
The report which covers 10 West African countries found that although 71% of Ghanaian migrants stay in West Africa, a growing number of Ghanaians are now to be found outside the region. Ghanaian migrants, according to the report 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. The US has 7.3% and the UK has 5.9% of Ghanaian migrants.
Ghana has the highest emigration rates of 46% for highly skilled people in West Africa.
This trend the report found is detrimental to the country’s education and health sector, but more especially so, for the health sector. It is estimated that more than 56% of doctors and 24% of nurses trained in Ghana are now working abroad. In education, more than 60% of faculty positions at polytechnics and 40% at public universities are vacant.
The report noted that 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 profile, however found a positive impact of growing emigration on the country. The report described as dramatic the increase in official remittance flows to Ghana.
It indicated that the Bank of Ghana estimates that remittances increased from US476 million in 1999 to US$ 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 2008.
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.
The report also found that Ghana has become a destination choice for most West Africans because of the country’s stable democracy and peace.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi