Migration policy in Ghana: Against migration with a vengeance

Neither asylum rights nor a visa: The chances that many Ghanaians will make it to Europe are slim to none. The EU keeps banking on its tactic of deterring them and sending them back.

Repeated peaceful transitions of power make Ghana a safe country of origin in the eyes of the EU Foto: ap

Ghana, like Senegal, is considered a safe country of origin from Germany's point of view, and other states in the European Union (EU) share a similar perspective. Yet in 2015, a total of 8,858 Ghanaians still applied for asylum worldwide.

The approval quota was just 2.5 percent. Germany, with 1,109 applications, ranked in third place behind Italy (3.621 applications) and South Africa (1,778), which was surprisingly the second-most common goal of asylum seekers. In the previous year it received as many as 2,449 applications. Ghana is among those nations whose population faces extreme difficulties in getting a visa for the Schengen area. According to a Frontex report from 2014, 20,000 visas were issued, while 38 percent of the applications were rejected.

EU data indicates that in 2014, more than 120,000 Ghanaians were living legally in the EU, the majority of them in the UK, Italy and Germany. 4,660 Ghanaians without papers were apprehended. In that year, 4,285 Ghanaians were supposedly deported. In fact, only 1,315 deportations were carried out. The rate in 2015 was somewhat lower than the previous year's 31 percent, dropping to 29.5 percent.

Since 2005, a “Memorandum of Understanding“ exists between Ghana and Spain. Among other points, it includes documentation of social, economic and political co-operation and teamwork in matters of migration. Under these terms, 5,000 Ghanaians have received residence permits in Spain. A further memorandum between Ghana and Italy was signed in 2010. A third is in the works with the EU. This was central topic in meetings between the Netherlands' Foreign Minister Bert Koenders and Ghana's Foreign Minister Hanna Tetteh and Minister of the Interior Prosper D.K. Bani. EU information indicates a clear focus on migrant returns, which are to be carried out promptly, and on deterrence measures.

Neutral information

Just a few days before Koenders‘ visit, Ghana, inhabited by barely 27 million people, had adopted a national migration strategy in which the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) was also involved. Migration could be desirable, as long it was well-regulated, claimed the IOM manager in Ghana, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra.

Ghana is set to receive €31 million from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for the areas of provision of employment and social security. €161 million is to flow into the agricultural sector. A further €6 million is planned for municipal projects and for supporting civil society. The aim is to promote economic development at a local level and to create jobs.

In February 2016, the EU, IOM, the Ghanaian immigration authorities GIS and the Regional Council of Brong Ahafo, a region in central Ghana, started Ghana's migration management programme GIMMA. Its core is the Information Centre for Migration MIC, which is supposed to supply “neutral information“. €3 million was earmarked for this project from the 10th European Development Fund.

However, Ghana is not only an exit country but also a target country for West Africa. By United Nations estimates, in 2010 more than 1.8 million immigrants lived in the country, making up 6.5 percent of the population. The reason for this is Ghana's political stability, which has held for decades. A peaceful transition of government occurred only recently, on 7 December 2016. Furthermore, until 201, the economy was judged to be stable. At present, in any case, the inflation rate is at 15.8 percent and the unemployment rate for young Ghanaians under 25 is about 50 percent.

The largest group of immigrants is Nigerians, constituting 20 percent. This group is not only made up of business people: Ghanaian universities are popular among Nigerian students. There are fewer strikes there compared to Nigeria, and courses of studies can be completed within to their scheduled times. Things were very different in the 1970s, however, when hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians moved to Nigeria to work. Then in 1983, up to one million of them were deported back again. Since the crisis in Libya, at least another 18,000 Ghanaians have returned from the North African country.

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