Work and establishment mobility in sub-Saharan Africa

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With the rise of neo Afro nationalism, a question that is seldom raised but key to this continent’s economic development is the status of work and establishment mobility in sub-Saharan Africa – a region with a drastic skills deficit?

The Ghanaian authorities have recently confirmed the continued closure of foreign owned shops and the expulsion of the owners, the majority of whom are Nigerian. This order follows the passing of the controversial Ghana Investment Promotion Act that excludes foreigners from certain small-scale businesses in Ghana in contravention of the ECOWAS treaty.

In what has been the largest deportation of people from the country since the mass expulsion of Ghanaians in the 1980s; the Nigerian government meanwhile has quietly been deporting tens of thousands of citizens from Cameroon, Niger and Chad for what it argues are security concerns in support of its fight against Boko Haram.

Citing concerns over security and crime, the Kenyan authorities have arrested scores of migrants mainly from the West and Horn of Africa. However, affected foreigners have complained that the Kenyan police are merely using security concerns as a pretext for beatings and deportation which have increased in light of the Westgate shopping mall attack in 2013.

South Africa meanwhile has introduced new immigration measures for Zimbabweans, which could potentially mean many may be forced to leave either at the end of the year or upon the expiry of the new dispensation irrespective of how long they have been in the country.

Although the Southern African Development Community has been handicapped by a lack of interest from its member states, mainly South Africa, other regional blocks have gone some way to attempting to implementing free movement of persons.

Citizens of ECOWAS enjoy visa free travel within the region for up to 3 months, after which a permit is required. The East African Community has gone further and introduced the EAC passport, which proffers similar rights for up to 6 months. Citizens of certain countries in the EAC can even move without a passport and are treated as domestic students when studying in another member state country.

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