Migration and Development
|Migration can be an effective tool for development by enhancing income distribution, promoting productive work for growth in Africa, enhancing women empowerment and gender equality, combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis amongst migrant population and improving partnership amongst the developed and African countries and other stakeholders. However, poverty is one of the main causes of migration. Creating development opportunities in countries of origin would mitigate the main reasons for young people to engage in migration, thereby also dealing with the problem of brain drain. |
African Common Position on Migration and Development, 2006
Migration and development are today increasingly viewed through the prism of the many links that exist between these two fields. Strengthening synergies between migration and development enhances the results of employment, migration management and development policies, and should be integrated into poverty reduction strategies.
The following initiatives are examples of linking migration and development:
- Engaging diaspora and transnational migrant communities in the development of their countries of ancestry or origin;
- Enhancing remittances – money transfers that migrants send to their home countries;
- Countering “brain drain” and “brain waste” with “brain gain”– mitigating the adverse effects of qualified and skilled persons leaving their countries (brain drain) and engaging in activities below their skills levels (brain waste), by ensuring that migrants return to their countries with new skills and knowledge, thereby contributing to the development of their countries of origin.
|Partners will foster the linkages between migration and development, maximise the development impact of remittances, facilitate the involvement of diasporas/migrant communities in development processes, (and) promote the protection of the human rights of migrants. |
Joint Africa-EU Strategy, 2007
For the African Union (AU) the term ‘diaspora’ refers to people of African origin living abroad that are willing or able to contribute to the development of Africa.
The AU calls the African diaspora the 6th region of Africa. The AU states as one of its objectives to “invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union” (Article 3(q), Protocol on amendements to the constitutive act of the African Union)
Strengthening the contribution of the diaspora to Africa’s development process is indeed key to fostering the migration-development nexus. Members of the African diaspora make valuable contributions to the economic and social development of their continent. They provide remittances, foreign direct investment, market development, technology and skills transfers, philanthropy, tourism, and more subtle flows of knowledge and cultural influence. Their involvement is facilitated by the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as well as incentives in countries of origin and destination to promote mobility [link to the circular migration chapter of the mobility and circular migration subsection] and migrants’ development (‘codevelopment’) intiatives.
Moreover, the diaspora can represent a strong lobbying group, acting as an important force for change. A growing number of diaspora organisations that seek to contribute to the development of Africa have been created. Within the AU Commission, the African Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO) engages with these organisations and their homeland governments in view of facilitating their role in the development of Africa.
Remittances to sub-Saharan Africa were evaluated by the World Bank at $21 billion in 2010, exceeding in certain countries the funds obtained via official development assistance and foreign direct investments.
Remittances as a major source of foreign exchange can boost the financial sector and attract investment. Studies show that the majority of remittances are spent on private consumption, in areas such as housing, health, education and consumption, which contribute to local and national economies. However, more can be done to encourage the productive use of remittances such as investing in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or in development projects.
Policies in this domain should target financial institutions, to reduce the transaction costs of remittances and increase their volume, and beneficiaries, to enhance their capacity to make smart financial choices. Moreover, in order to achieve optimum development results, all stakeholders that contribute to the impact of remittances should be considered in these policies: banks and money transfer operators, including pro-poor financial institutions and cooperatives; national institutions; the private sector and the diaspora; as well as NGOs and International Organisations.
Massive emigration of highly skilled labour can result in the so-called ‘brain drain’ effect and have a negative impact on the development of countries of origin. Many African countries are vulnerable to brain drain, particularly with regards to key sectors such as health and education.
Policies to counter the effects of brain drain should focus not only on the retention of skilled migrants, but also on the positive development role of returning migrants. Hence such policies should promote permanent/temporary return, foster circular migration, enhance knowledge and technology, regulate recruitment practices and support institutional capacity building. Close cooperation between source and destination countries is important in this regard.
Another issue is the so-called brain waste phenomenon: migrants working in occupations for which they are overqualified. Putting in place systems which serve to recognise skills and qualifications between countries of origin and destination help counter this effect, by making it easier for migrants to work in their areas of expertise.
The Blue card directive and the fight against brain drain
Ensuring an adequate protection of the rights of migrants, ranks high among the priorities of the Africa-EU Partnership.
Protection of the fundamental rights of all migrants is guaranteed by international and regional human rights instruments that protect the fundamental rights of all human beings regardless of their nationality and legal status (e.g. European Convention on Human Rights; Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights).
A series of international instruments that safeguard the economic and social rights of workers apply to migrant workers. These include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions. A governing principle recognised by these instruments is the principle of non-discrimination, which implies that all foreign nationals should be treated on equal terms with citizens. Among them, two widely ratified ILO conventions promote the equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of access to employment, terms and conditions of employment (C-111 -Discrimination Convention) and equal remuneration (C-100-Equal Remuneration Convention).
Three international instruments provide specific standards for the protection of the rights of migrant workers: two ILO Convention on Migration for Employment (C-97) and Migrant Workers (C-143), followed by the UN 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which set standards for the recruitment of migrant workers and their conditions of work, and emphasise the need to respect human rights and ensure the equal treatment of all migrant workers. The ratification rates of these conventions have been very low.
In the EU, existing national and international protection instruments and EU legislation cover most provisions of these Conventions. The stated objective of the EU integration policy is to ensure by 2014 the latest that non-EU nationals legally residing in the EU benefit from rights and obligations comparable to those of EU citizens.
In terms of social security, different regimes are associated with international migration. In the EU, access to social services is granted as well as the possibility to keep social security benefits when moving to another EU Member State. However, the possibility for migrants to keep their social security when moving back to their country of origin depends on bilateral or multilateral agreements establishing coordination between social security institutions.
In lower-income countries, formal social protection systems are much less developed and the main priority remains the effective enforcement of basic labour and social rights and access to justice for both migrants and nationals.
Migration brings aside social consequences in terms of living arrangements, gender roles and family relations. The impact of remittances on families back home can be positive, but remittances do not compensate for a lack of parental care and guidance. Furthermore, women who stay behind when their husbands move abroad often assume an extra burden in the household, taking over the husband’s role in addition to their own. However an increasing number of women migrate on their own, which also has economic and social consequences, such as changes in the labour market and insocial roles. Migration can be an empowering experience which brings new economic and social responsibilities that may change the distribution of power within the family and community, leading to greater authority and participation for women in household decision making and control over the family's resources.
The extent to which migration can positively contribute to the social dimension of development in countries of origin and destination is contingent on the presence of a national policy context supportive of the families back home.
Integration challenges in countries of destination must also be monitored and properly addressed.
Two migration and development related initiatives are foreseen in the second action plan of the MME Partnership:
Initiative 4: Diaspora Outreach Initiative. The Partners will establish an Africa–EU Diaspora cooperation framework, with the objective of engaging the Diaspora in the development of Africa and to build capacity and transfer skills, knowledge and technologies from the Diaspora to the African continent. This cooperation framework will be built on the AU Diaspora Initiative, and create synergies between the following three existing programmes: (a) Global Mapping of Africa Diasporas (AUC –WB), (b) Capacity building for Diaspora ministries in Africa (NL/DE), (c) EU-wide networks of African Diaspora organisations working in the field of development.
Initiative 2: African Remittances Institute. The preparatory phase project (technical and consultative) designed to facilitate a structured and deepened reflection on all aspects of the prospective establishment of the African Remittances Institute (ARI) was launched in 2010, involving the World Bank in association with AUC and EC, as well as IOM and AfDB. The Steering Committee that has been established is led by the AUC Preparatory activities will encompass, consultations research, capacity building and networking. It is envisaged that the Institute, once established, will facilitate better, more effective and safer remittances’ transfer system, which will fully take into account the specificities of African countries.
Furthermore a series of projects and actions are implemented by EU and African partners at inter-regional or bilateral level. These initiatives include the 'EC-UNDP Joint Migration and Development Initiative' (JMDI), which targets 16 countries including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopia. The initiative aims to build the capacities of small-scale actors – local authorities, NGOs and diaspora groups – to become more active and effective in leveraging the development opportunities associated with migration.
African and European policies
- African Common Position on Migration and Development
- EC Communication Migration and Development: Some concrete orientations (2005)
- European Programme for Action to tackle the critical shortage of health workers in developing countries (2007-2013)