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Prospective Ghanaian travelers who are eager to ply their skills in Europe now have a better option to avoid the tribulations which illegal migrants are subjected to travelling across the Sahara Desert.

Through a scheme which is to become operational next March, 1,000 skilled Ghanaian workers are to be engaged in Italy annually for a two-year contract, making it unnecessary for them to risk the Sahara route.

The job-matching scheme which is being jointly organized b Ghana’s Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, the Labour Department, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of the Interior of Italy.

The Director of the National Migration Bureau, Mrs. Adelaide Anno-Kunu, told the Daily Graphic that the programme was to encourage legal travel among Ghanaians and curb the incidence of illegal migration to Italy and other European countries.

According to a World Bank report, an estimated 70,000 of Africa’s most qualified people leave each year and he continent spends $4 billion to replace them with expatriate workers. A BBC report indicates that many of the immigrants pay human smugglers to get them across the Sahara or the Mediterranean Sea but die on the way.

Many Ghanaians have migrated to other countries, especially in Europe and the Americas, through illegal channels. Some of them, including highly qualified professionals, often find themselves engaged in menial jobs in those countries.

Some of the illegal migrants are languishing in jails in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In Trinidad and Tobago, 22 Ghanaians who are alleged to have illegally migrated there recently, are reported to be languishing in prison.

Mrs. Anno-Kunu said by March next year the government would advertise the job opportunities in Italy and spell out details of the requirements for prospective applicants, adding that it would offer the jobs to persons whose expertise were needed in Italy.

She said the stakeholders would come up with a policy and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on how to streamline the travel formalities.

For instance, she said they would consider whether prospective employees needed to pay for their travelling expenses or the employers would do that.

Besides, Mrs. Anno-Kunu said the MoU would require the employers to ensure that the employees returned to Ghana after the two-year contract.

She stressed the need for the beneficiaries to return home after the end of their contracts to make way for others to also benefit.

She said 12 officials from the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, the Labour Department and the IOM would undertake the project of identifying matching jobs in Italy, register applicants and begin a training programme by the middle of June this year.

She said the 12 officials, comprising verification, data entry and cultural orientation officers, would have their final training in Rome, Italy, between September and October this year.

Mrs. Anno-Kunu explained that the training was to build the capacities of the officers to identify quality job opportunities in Italy vis-à-vis what pertained in Ghana.

They would also learn how to enter the information of applicants in a database and teach them about the cultural perceptions and the climate of Ital, she said.

The main causes of migration in Africa are conflicts, poverty, political reasons an environmental degradation, according to the United Nations Secretariat Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division.

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