Labor Migration Governance in West Africa in the Wake of the Pandemic
Leander Kandilige, Senior Lecturer of Migration Studies, Centre for Migration Studies, University of Ghana
Lanfia Diané, Advisor and Economist, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation, Senegal
Dennis Röntgen, Senior Policy Officer, Division 220 - Policy Issues of Displacement and Migration, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
Kate Hooper, Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
Camille Le Coz, Policy Analyst, MPI and MPI Europe
COVID-19 has dramatically curtailed opportunities to migrate in West Africa, with far-reaching economic consequences. In 2019, about 10 million West Africans lived in other countries in the region or internationally, and migration has traditionally been a driver for development for the region through remittances, knowledge transfers, and other forms of diaspora engagement. Now, ongoing border closures and travel restrictions coupled with new public-health measures have added an extra layer of complexity to migration management in the region. Competing policy priorities arising from the pandemic have also threatened to sideline recent national efforts to strengthen migration governance and the lifting of barriers to mobility under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Free Movement.
In the cases of Ghana and Senegal, efforts to translate migration policy goals into practice were proving challenging even prior to the pandemic. Among the stumbling blocks: how to build mutually beneficial ties between origin countries and their diasporas, how to balance governments’ commitments to better regulate worker recruitment despite constraints on resources, and how to move the needle on issues such as promoting freedom of movement within ECOWAS while protecting local workers and business. In the wake of the pandemic and related economic downturn, migrants’ potential to support recovery efforts make addressing these questions even more critical.
On this webinar speakers discuss a recent policy brief Deepening Labor Migration Governance at a Time of Immobility: Lessons from Ghana and Senegal. Experts and government officials from the region and Europe explore the importance of labor migration for West Africa, related policy efforts by the Ghanaian and Senegalese governments, and how development agencies can best support African countries in resuming mobility and enhancing the development benefits of labor migration.