The broken dream: 75% of Ghanaians want out of country – survey

A survey conducted by Pew Research Centre (PRC), a US-based think-tank, has revealed that more than 75 percent of Ghanaians would not hesitate to grab an opportunity to migrate abroad to better their living conditions.

The survey, conducted in sub-Saharan countries that have supplied a huge chunk of migrants to US and Europe, asked respondents whether they would go to live in another country if they had the means and opportunity.

Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya were the biggest sources of migrants to Europe and the United States among the dozens of nations south of the Sahara, according to the Pew Research Centre.

The large-scale movement of people out of sub-Saharan Africa has grown steadily nearly every year since 2010, the Pew study said.

In Ghana, 1,152 respondents above the age of 18 were interviewed for this study.

At least four-in-ten in each sub-Saharan country surveyed answered “yes”, including roughly three-quarters of those surveyed in Ghana (75 percent) and Nigeria (74 percent).

According to the findings released last week, multiple factors can be attributed to the widespread appeal of migrating to seek greener pastures.

“To begin with, while many sub-Saharan African economies are growing, many countries continue to have high unemployment rates and relatively low wage rates. In addition, the job market looks unlikely to improve anytime soon, thanks to high fertility levels that will mean even more people competing for jobs.

Against this backdrop, sub-Saharan Africans could see migrating to countries with more – and better paying – jobs as a means of improving their personal economic prospects,” the survey results stated.

The survey also asked respondents whether they have plans of migrating abroad in the next five years – of which 42 percent of the Ghanaians responded in the affirmative.

Senior Researcher at PRC, Phillip Connor, said pressures related to economic well-being and insecurity may help to explain why, beyond a general willingness to migrate, substantial amounts of sub-Saharan Africans say they actually plan to move to another country in the next five years.

Among the six countries polled, the percentage-ratio with plans to migrate ranges from roughly four-in-ten or more in Senegal (44 percent), Ghana (42 percent) and Nigeria (38 percent) to fewer than one-in-ten in Tanzania (8 percent).

“Will all those with plans to migrate in fact leave their home countries in the next five years? If recent history is a guide, the answer would most likely be ‘no’. But data from official sources suggest that this will not be for lack of effort,” Mr. Connor said.

In 2015, 1.7 million Ghanaians (or 6 percent of Ghana’s population) applied for the U.S. diversity lottery – even when only 50,000 people worldwide are permitted to move each year to the U.S. through this visa programme.

“Although the lottery only requires an online application and completion of a high school diploma for eligibility, the high number of applicants underscores the seriousness with which many sub-Saharan Africans contemplate and actively pursue migrating abroad,” Mr. Connor added.

In several of the countries surveyed by Pew Research Centre, those planning to migrate more often cited the U.S. – as opposed to Europe – as their preferred destination when asked where in the world they planned to move.

For example, among the 42 percent of Ghanaians who say they plan to migrate abroad in the next five years, four-in-ten (41 percent) identify the U.S. as their intended destination, while three-in-ten (30 percent) name a country in the EU, Norway or Switzerland.

Global migration overall has strained resources in host countries that are struggling to shoulder the costs. In some places, migration has fuelled political tensions and calls for the closing of borders.