By Tolulope Ajibola,

Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, at the maiden Africa Migration Summit (AMS) on February 25 in Ghana urged the continent to devise policies to harvest benefits of migration.

The two day event was held at the Accra International Conference Center, Ghana and powered by the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) in partnership with the Nekotech Center of Excellence, Ghana.

The summit themed Labour Migration: Shifting The Paradigm To Benefit Africa chaired by Alpha Timbo, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sierra Leone had highly placed dignitaries in attendance that included President Nana Akufo-Addo and Professor Patrick Lumumba from Kenya.

Others at the virtual cum physical event were Claudia Turbay Quintero, the Columbian ambassador in Ghana and the dean of all foreign mission corps; Chairman Nigeria House of Representatives Diaspora Committee, Hon Tolulope Akande-Sadipe and member African Union Labour-Migration Advisory Committee, Dr Princess Ocansey and others.

Those who were inducted into African Migration Hall of fame at the occasion were President Nana, Governor Ayade; Susan Gong, Ceo, Altec Global, Canada; Professor Lumumba; and former minister of Immigration Canada, Gerry Wriner for their various contribution to positive migration on the continent.

Speaking, President Nana praised the organizers of the event saying it was a good development that would reshape the migration policies in several African countries if sustained.

The president, represented by Mr Akwasi Awua Ababio, the Director Diaspora Affairs at the Presidency, pledged that Ghana shall continue to protect the interest of her citizens abroad as evident in the rescue of about 2000 Ghanaians from slavery in the Middle East recently.

President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi during while delivering the opening remark said the summit was put together to galvanize support for a review of migration policies in order to make Africa reap benefits from huge human and mineral resources being exported from the continent with a view to encourage regular migration as well.

”We can longer live in denial that all is well. Thousands of souls of future leaders are perishing on the Mediterranean Sea as a result of irregular migration. In 2020 according to the United Nations out of about 3,101 migrants that died globally while trying to reach their destinations, 1,483 of them were Africans.

“The agony of several African migrants in the Middle East being enslaved under the Kafala System is an open secret as being witnessed in Lebanon, Yemen, Omani, Saudi Arabia and others” he said.

The keynote speaker, Governor Ayade submitted that migration has the capacity to turn around the fortune of the continent if done properly.

His words: “For example in a report in 2019, remittance from Nigerians in diaspora contributed to over 5 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, this example is widespread across Africa as Migrants of Africa origin are key contributors to their nation’s GDP.

“The diaspora plays a key role in Africa’s development story, today the value of remittances is three times larger than official development assistance (ODA), That’s million upon million of dollars” said Prince Michael Nku Abuo Wellington, the Director General Migration Control Agency, Cross River who represented the governor.

According to him, the state  was ready to facilitate regular migration and access to opportunities in the international community in the EU, UK,Canada, US, Australia, Germany and Japan.

Professor Lumumba on his part urged the African leaders to take migration matters seriously and provide for the needs of the youths to curb the high death rate recorded by irregular migrants on the Mediterranean sea.

Ambassador Claudia described the summit as a breakthrough for Africa saying “you people have love and intelligence. I will say you are a miracle worker. This will go a long way to improve migration trends” she said.

Dr Ocansey who doubles as chairman of NEKOTECH center called for a review of labour migration policies to negotiate the deadly works Africans were exposed to abroad and substitute such with decent works.

The best selling author  of a book titled Deadly Work or Decent Work? Noted that Africans enslavement abroad:”Is an alarming revelation leading to an urgent outcry and humble appeal to Middle Eastern and African leaders for the abolishment of the horrifying archaic migrant employment hiring system in the Middle East: Kafala. 

“This eye-opening book journeys deeply into the trenches, bringing us face to face with the mind boggling violent experiences of the most vulnerable migrant workers: women domestic workers – whose plights have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 era.”

The summit attracted participation of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia;H.E. Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett- Head of Mission Diaspora African Forum, H.E. Ambassador Winifred Nii Okai Hammond, Ghana’s Ambassador to Egypt, Rev.Dr. Lawrence Tetteh, Professor Joseph Teye, Director of Migration Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Professor Byon Price of Diaspora Institute, America, Migration Forum Asia, Rebirth Hub Africa, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Institute Development ,  Dr. Williams Azuma Ijoma, President of  Organisation pour l’Intégration Africaine Lomé, Togo. and others.

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