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International migration and national development - Hein De Haas

International migration and national development - Hein De Haas

· The general lack of

· The general lack of insecurity, high prevalence of crime, high levels ofcorruption and a generally unfavourable investment environment preventNigerian migrants from investing, circulating and returning.· Both the Nigerian and European states have put severe limitations on legalmigration.· The development missions of receiving countries in Nigeria have not made agenuine link between migration and development issues. In practice, policiesof receiving countries tend to almost exclusively associate migration withsecurity issues and crime.· Both the Nigerian and European states base their policies on the assumptionthat migration is the result of a lack of development. This makes it difficult toenvisage a policy that creates a positive link between these phenomena.· The fact that a significant proportion of Nigerian migrants are relativelywealthy and the fact that most migrants are from the relatively developedsouth, will make it difficult to establish a direct link between migration,poverty reduction and reducing inequality at the national level. However, moreresearch is needed to identify in which regions and under which circumstancessuch positive connections can be made.· There is striking lack of empirical knowledge on the number of Nigeriansliving abroad, their origin and whereabouts as well as the reciprocalconnections of this migration with development. This lack of knowledgeseems to be indicative of the past neglect of emigrants.RecommendationsThere was general agreement among the Nigerian stakeholders that in order toenhance the development contribution of migrants, it is necessary to create agenerally conducive environment for development and investment. Nigeria is stillseen as too risky, and beyond the oil industry few investments are being madeallowing for a significant skills transfer. In the eyes of many interviewees, there arenot enough assurances that entrepreneurs can make profit and can get these profitsback.Besides this need to pursue sustained general economic and political reform in orderto restore trust among migrants, the following specific policy suggestions can beformulated:· In order to reinforce links with Nigerian migrants and their organisations, theNigerian state wishes to encourage migrants to register at Nigerian embassiesabroad. However, they will only do so, if the Nigerian state assumes a moreactive role in assisting and defending the rights of both documented andundocumented migrants. After years of repression, the Nigerian state is23

generally distrusted. Granting migrants voting rights is also believed tocontribute to restoring trust.· With regards to the desire of the Nigerian government to ‘reach out’ todiaspora groups and to ‘tap’ their development potential, a important point ofdeparture seems to be that the governments and development agencies shouldnot so much try to ‘mobilise’ diasporas for development, but rather link upwith and build on the wealth of existing initiatives of Nigerian (and otherWest-African migrants), such as AFFORD in the UK. Current initiatives ofthe Nigerian state such as NIDO seem to be rather top-down and this isperhaps an obstacle for their successful implementation. It is important torecognise that many migrants are already mobilised for development on theirown force. They are unlikely to be willing to be ‘tapped’ by the Nigeriangovernment. A more fruitful approach could therefore be if the Nigerian stateand development agencies try to reinforce rather than direct the transnationalengagement of diaspora groups in development cooperation.· The ‘brain drain’ cannot be prevented as long as general conditions in Nigeriado not improve substantially. In Nigeria basic rights are not upheld and thereis not a feeling that the government protects its citizens. Besides improvinginvestment conditions, personal security needs to be addressed before the‘brain drain’ can be turned into a brain gain through increased remittances,transfer of knowledge and competencies and even a reversal of the capitalflight.· Encouraging free and circular movement through liberalising migrationpolices. This applies both for West-African as European countries. Migrantsthat can freely travel back and forth are more likely to contribute todevelopment. Most Nigerian stakeholder felt that EU must create more waysfor Nigerians and other West Africans to migrate legally and move freely inand out. The high restrictions mean that the poorer Nigerians cannot migrate,and also provoke undocumented migration. As it is difficult to obtain visas, itwas said that once a West African gets one they are likely to stay a long time.If there is freer movement, West African nationals would be less compelled tostay permanently. Increasing possibilities for legal migration and freermovement should preferably be negotiated on EU-ECOWAS (‘block toblock’) level instead of on bilateral level.· In the same vein, it was felt that also the Nigerian state should liberalise itsimmigration policies and that Nigeria and other ECOWAS states shouldgenuinely implement the ECOWAS protocol on the free movement ofpersons, the right of residence and establishment. Regional integration, both ineconomic and migratory terms, is seen as a powerful tool for nationaldevelopment.· For the Nigerian state and banks, there is substantial scope to decrease thecosts of remitting money and to encourage the use of formal remittancesystems through increasing competition and transparency, offering remittanceproducts through mobile phone techniques, encouraging banks to design24

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