German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier shakes Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Ghanaian Minister for Employment and Labour Relations at the opening of the Ghanaian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration in Accra, December 2017 / Photo: GNA

German centre helping Ghanaian returnees opens in Accra

A migration advisory centre has opened to help Ghanaians to find jobs and opportunities at home, instead of attempting the often treacherous journey to Europe through irregular routes.

“Nobody returning to Ghana will return as a loser.” That’s the message of the German state secretary for economic development, Dr Friedrich Kitschelt, to young Ghanaians who believe there are no jobs or opportunities in their own country.

Kitschelt travelled to the West African country this week with the German head of state, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for the opening of the new Ghanaian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration in the capital Accra.

The centre, situated in the building of the GNAT Heights at Ridge, would serve as a point of contact for people looking for prospects in Ghana and also offer individual counselling for returnees who have failed in their efforts to flee to Europe, giving them a chance to resettle in their own country with assistance in finding jobs and starting up businesses.

The centre was commissioned by President Steinmeier assisted by Mr Ignatius Bafuor Awuah, Ghana’s Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Also at the ceremony was Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, who was described as a “German Returnee” for his integration into the Ghanaian system after studying in Germany and leading the setting up of the Cardiothoracic Centre, Ghana’s foremost Heart Centre at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.             

Ghanaian returnees from Libya being received by officials of the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, December 2017, at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra. The new Ghanaian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration supports returnees from Europe in their reintegration, giving them a chance to resettle in their own country with assistance in finding jobs and starting up businesses / Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Minister Awuah said: “The Ghanaian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration will be a centre of excellence that will deepen the collaboration between Ghana and Germany. We are actually taking our level of cooperation to a different level altogether, a very high level.

“It will be a centre where Ghanaians who have travelled out and for one reason or the other will want to come back home, will come and seek advice as to how best they can take advantage of the opportunities locally”.

He said because of Ghana’s lower income levels, people would always like to move to places offering the possibilities of earning higher incomes so some Ghanaians were seen going to Europe and other countries for economic reasons.

Awuah said the venture also exposed the people to so many risks, since some often did their travelling through unapproved routes through the desert and the Mediterranean, with some losing their lives.

He cited the example of the recent Libya issue, where some migrants were being subjected to inhumane treatment, saying; “President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has totally condemned that act”.

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“What the President seeks to do, is to build the local economy so that Ghanaians will have confidence and stay here, Ghanaians will have jobs to do, not just jobs but decent jobs that will actually accord them the rights of a worker and also earn them incomes, which are living incomes. That is what the President is committed to.”

Minister Awuah said while that process was still on the way, there was the need to regulate the system, and the Migration Centre would be the best link to offer advice to Ghanaians who want to do proper migration to Germany and other countries.

He said Ghana would also continue to tap the knowledge and expertise of countries like Germany in technical, vocational, educational training, medicine, and renewable energy “until we are able to build our local capacities”.

“I want to assure you that we will be committed to our part of the agreement to ensure that we make Ghanaians interested in Ghana, and stay in Ghana and work in Ghana,” Minister Awuah said.

Raising awareness

David Tette, program coordinator at the new migration centre, says many young Ghanaians are not aware of the employment and training opportunities that exist.

The centre aims to counter misinformation as well as a lack of information. “If you are not well-informed, you make a lot of wrong decisions,” Tette told DW. “The centre won’t stop every young person, but at least it will help to inform those who are thinking about leaving what they are risking.”

The Job and Migration Centre is a cooperative venture between the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and the German development cooperation agency (GIZ).

Adira Kallo with GNA and InfoMigrants reports

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