Founder and CEO of the Global Media Foundation, a media advocacy and human rights organization in Ghana, Raphael Godlove Ahenu Jr, has issued a compelling challenge to the government. He urged the authorities to prioritize the creation of employment opportunities for young people as a means to curb irregular migration.
Mr. Ahenu highlighted that statistical projections indicate a significant increase in Ghana’s youth population, expected to rise from 17 million in 2018 to 24 million by 2050. He emphasized that the combination of this population growth and persistently high unemployment rates is a key factor driving young Ghanaians to seek opportunities in higher-income countries.
In the absence of accessible legal pathways for migration, many individuals resort to irregular means. Tragically, a large number of these illegal migrants do not reach their intended destinations, often meeting their fate in the harsh desert or the perilous waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
A 2017 Afrobarometer survey revealed that 41 percent of Ghanaian respondents had considered the possibility of moving to another country, with over 70 percent citing the search for employment or economic hardship as their primary motivations.
This wave of migration has also impacted Ghana’s healthcare system. Many health professionals have emigrated to OECD countries, resulting in a low doctor-to-patient ratio in Ghana, despite the country’s substantial number of well-trained doctors and nurses serving globally.
Ghana currently ranks among the top ten countries with migrants traveling to Italy by sea, and it stands among the top five in Africa in this regard.
Mr. Ahenu, in a conversation with the media, explained that the Global Media Foundation’s Irregular Migration Prevention and Enterprise Development (IMPED) project aims to address the issue of youth unemployment, which drives the high rate of irregular migration among young people in the Bono and Bono East regions. The project focuses on raising awareness and fostering enterprise development.
Despite the efforts of various institutions to sensitize and create awareness about irregular migration among the youth, Mr. Ahenu pointed out that the root causes of this phenomenon have often been left unaddressed. Many young people migrate due to a lack of job opportunities or insufficient income from their small businesses, and the IMPED Project seeks to confront these issues by promoting youth enterprise development through entrepreneurship training.
The CEO emphasized that the project’s implementation in the Bono and Bono East regions is particularly significant, as these regions are known for being the primary sources of irregular migrants, many of whom embark on their journeys without adequate knowledge of the challenges and risks they will face en route to their intended destinations.
Between January and October 2017, a total of 3,669 Ghanaians returned from Libya, with 1,426 hailing from the Bono and Bono East regions.