Call For Proposal 2012 - OSSREA: International Migration and Development: Sub Saharan Africa in Perspective

Posted by Jamal Fida Tuesday, March 13, 2012 0 comments
Closing Date: March 30,2012.
International migration, which is the movement of people out of their birth place crossing international boundaries, is a political, economic and social agenda at both domestic and international level. In 2011, more than 210 million people or 3% of the world population were international migrants. This movement is not only from developing to developed countries (South –North) but also from South to South and North to North. Most migration is also taking place over short distances, to neighboring countries and within regions. New migration poles are also emerging in Asia, Africa and South America, in response to the labor demands created by an increasingly interdependent global economy. Currently, the largest numbers of migrants to total population are not found in Europe or North America, but rather in countries such as Arab States in the Gulf, where international migrants make up more than half of the working age population.
Recent policy oriented research in the area of international migration, however, has focused on the impact of migration on economic, political and social life of the receiving, sending and transit countries. Focusing only on sending and receiving countries, the literature provides two opposing arguments. The first states that migration is a losing paradigm for the sending country. It results in creaming–off skilled and educated people, especially the loss of their knowledge, energies and potential taxes as well as reduction in the domestic pressures for economic and political reform; disintegrating family structures; losing of young active workers; and increasing dependence on remittances. For the host countries it crowds out public facilities as well as creates social and ethnic tension. The right of migrants is also a big concern as they are subjected to racism and xenophobia and suffer from exploitation by traffickers and employers. Studies in Africa show that brain drain or the loss of educated and skilled personnel is the most obvious way in which migration can harm the development prospects of the countries and communities left behind. Some consider this situation as “Africa’s foreign assistance to the developed world” or reverse technology transfer.
The second line of argument suggests that international migration results in a triple-win for migrant sending, migrant receiving and the migrant. Migrant receiving countries can benefit from tax revenues, welfare spending, migrants’ consumption of public services, low wage rates, high employment levels, cultural enrichment, and increased diversity and innovation. Migrants have the opportunity to accumulate wealth and skills, working in a context where their labour and skills can be employed more productively and for greater reward and where they may feel more secure. For the sending countries migration can provide an outlet for underemployed skills and reduce unemployment. It can also increase the incentives for people to pursue higher education, generate remittances, lead to the return migration of people with new and improved skills, expose developing countries to different ideas and values, and establish links which may be used in future for trading and business purposes. Remittances are the most important gain for the sending country. It is stated that remittances contribute to the well-being of families and communities of origin. In 2010, some US$325 billion were remitted to developing countries, far outpacing official development assistance; and being second to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a source of external financing for developing countries. Acquisition of technology by migrants has also transformed their home countries technological development.
From the above discussion it is possible to discern important interconnected issues of international migration: brain-drain and gain, human rights abuse, remittance and transfer of technology. Different countries also have different responses to manage brain drain. Some try to stop such migration – a measure which is neither desirable nor attainable but others employ different forms of arrangements for temporary and circular migration. Some countries, like Philippines, also play an active role in exporting skilled manpower. In order to attract and increase the volume of remittance, countries in Asia and Latin America are putting in much effort to encourage migrants to remit by providing incentives and attractive measures for investment. Some countries offer higher interest rates for foreign currency accounts (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) or special incentives and tax breaks (Philippines and India) and some countries sell bonds to migrants as attractive investment vehicles (Brazil). Some countries provide various forms of incentives to migrants to use remittance in long term investment projects. For instance, India, China and to some extent South Africa have developed modalities to attract their Diaspora to invest in their countries or return and set up high tech enterprises. 
The impact of international migration, both South-South as well as South-North, on the economic, social and political life of the people in eastern and southern Africa is not well documented and studied. In fact Sub-Saharan African countries are affected by the brain-drain. Ghana and Zimbabwe are good examples for having a large number of health workers in Great Britain. Rwanda is among the top ten countries of the world having the highest number of out migrants. A good number of people living in Sub- Saharan Africa depend on remittance sent from emigrants. For instance the remittance flow in Ethiopia, which was 1.2% of the country’s GDP in 1998, had increased to 3.7% in 2005. The recent xenophobia in South Africa however; has been the biggest concern for the region. Moreover, the institutional arrangements or policy measures considered to increase the flow of remittance, to manage brain drain and to tackle the rights of migrants are not widely known. Unfortunately in sub-Saharan Africa, the evidence–base for policy on migration and development is very weak.

OSSREA’s study on south-north and south-south migration, with a special focus on Sub Saharan African countries, has the following objectives.
 
·      To analyze the nature and types of south-south migration and migration to neighbouring countries focusing, interalia, on brain drain, human rights abuse, brain gain, remittances, technological transfer and gender dimension of migration;
·      To examine the nature and types of migration from Sub-Saharan African countries to Arab States in the Gulf,  as well as from Sub-Saharan Africa to the countries in the North giving attention, interalia, to types of professions and skills of migrants, brain drain, human rights abuse, brain gain, remittances, technological transfer and gender dimension of migration; and
·         To examine successes and challenges of Sub-Saharan African countries national policy responses to address the negative implications of brain drain and human right abuses of migrants as well as to encourage remittance flow, technological transfer and engaging the Africa Diaspora to contribute to Africa’s recovery.

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