GERMANY: Diaspora Insurance attends African ambassadors labour mobility summit

By Diaspora Insurance News

BERLIN: Germany, like major European economies, faces acute on chronic shortages of labour in key areas like healthcare, information technology, engineering and education. The labour shortages in these key sectors of the economy have led to an increased demand for skilled migrant labour.

With it, migrant labour brings a lot of challenges to the government, employers, employment agencies, and communities. To this end Giving Africa a New Face (GAaNF) and 360 Alliance, non-profit organisations in Germany, organised the African Ambassadors Labour Mobility Summit 2.0 in Berlin, Germany, on 15th of March 2024.

Some of the objectives of GAaNF are promoting a better partnership between Africa and Europe, potential driven migration and inclusion of African migrants in Europe. The summit was aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by labour migration between Africa and Germany. It brought together African Ambassadors, German Federal Ministries, Chamber of Commerce, the Federal Labour Agency, NGOs and Diaspora Initiatives to discuss and share insights and develop strategies that promote more effective and sustainable structures for labour migration between Africa and Germany.

Africa has a young population, with more than 50% of the population being young adults. The majority of them are educated but do not have a job. This is creating a lot of headaches for many African governments. European countries like Germany have an ageing population leading to labour shortages. There is need to create a sustainable win-win situation for both African countries and Germany.

The summit was opened by Barr. Edith Otiende-Lawani, the director and co-founder of GAaNF. In her opening remarks, she lamented the challenges faced by African migrants looking for work in Germany including recognition of foreign qualifications, language barriers, cultural integration, bureaucratic hurdles and discrimination. She said that these hurdles not only hinder the effective utilization of foreign talent but also block the successful integration of migrants into the German labour market and society in general.

, GERMANY: Diaspora Insurance attends African ambassadors labour mobility summit

Barr. Otiende-Lawani said that addressing these challenges requires a coordinated effort from government policymakers, employers, and other stakeholders to come up with comprehensive and inclusive labour migration policies that foster diversity, equality and progression of migrants.

Dr Barbel Kofler, Parliamentary State Secretary Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, mentioned in her presentation to the delegates that Germany requires 400,000 net migrants to fill the gap in the labour market per year. 60% of Germans surveyed agreed that Germany needs migrants to fill the gaps in the labour market.

Dr Kofler made a very interesting remark that, in a study done by the OECD, an organisation of 37 democracies with market-based economies, showed that a lot of people were interested in coming to Germany for work, but not many actually came to Germany. Some of the obstacles that she highlighted included visas, recognition of foreign qualifications, bureaucracy, German language and openness of German society.

Dr Kofler highlighted the need for bilateral engagements with African governments to identify special needs areas, working closely with employment agencies and encourage more conversations with the diaspora community in Germany. She also mentioned the commitment of the German government to providing more funding for German language courses in African countries plus online courses.

Pro Enzo Weber of The Research Institute of the Federal Employment Agency (IAB) painted a more scary picture of the German labour market. He said that the labour shortage index has been rising sharply since 2021, particularly in the healthcare, IT and hospitality sectors. The labour force is projected to fall sharply in 2030 without migration as the baby boomer generation retires, he said during his presentation. The irony is that German law is actually designed to prevent migration, lamented Prof Weber.

, GERMANY: Diaspora Insurance attends African ambassadors labour mobility summit

Malawi ambassador to Germany H.E. Amb. Joseph John Mpinganjira listens to Diaspora Insurance Executive Director Dr Sibert Mandega

Of interest is that, of immigrants that join the German labour market, a significant proportion leave annually. Prof Weber noted that of the 1.3 million people who migrate to Germany, 10% leave the country each year. This is mainly due to the failure to integrate into the German labour market and society in general as highlighted above. The situation is even worse for foreign women when it comes to employment opportunities in Germany. The labour force participation rate of foreign women is much lower than that of local German women.

The Ambassador of Malawi to Germany H.E. Amb. Joseph John Mpinganjira highlighted the need to manage the expectations of the young people coming from Africa. A lot of them come here unprepared and this results in failure to integrate. He also reiterated the need to create a balance between the recipient countries in Europe and the African countries as far as addressing key issues like brain drain. It is critical that we are able to evaluate the return on investment on educating Africa’s young people.

He mentioned that there is also a need for the various German organisations to share information with embassies about their citizens in Germany. Ambassador Mpinganjira also suggested the need for new immigrants to be mentored and that there should be diaspora organisations doing that. Kenyan Women in Germany (KWIG) represented by Jacky Kuhn and AG-Career-Hub represented by Caroline Mwangi at the summit provide such services to the diaspora community in Germany.

Diaspora Insurance was represented by Dr Sibert Mandega, Esther Bornefeld and Vivian Onzere. Dr Sibert Mandega, Executive Director of Diaspora Insurance, highlighted the struggles that African diasporas face when coming to new countries. Integration into the host country can be challenging. Most diasporas are vulnerable as far as insurance is concerned because most insurance products are only designed for local consumers. This leads to untold suffering within the African diaspora community if someone loses a loved one in the diaspora.

, GERMANY: Diaspora Insurance attends African ambassadors labour mobility summit

“This suffering is very acute especially when you have just settled in. Most likely you will not have any savings or network of friends to help when you lose someone close. In such situations, families resort to unsustainable solutions like GoFundMe or approach their respective embassies. But with the bespoke Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan crafted by Diaspora Insurance with all diasporas in mind, that burden can be taken away,” said Dr Mandega.

“We are proud of our work within the diaspora communities globally. Not just are we a business but we support and work with diaspora organisations that help the integration of African migrants in the key markets that we serve. We recognise the struggles that new arrivals face in a new country. This is why we continue to introduce products designed for specific groups like the COS Scheme for healthcare workers in the United Kingdom to help them settle in.”

There were a lot of takeaways from the summit both for the German government and African countries that supply the labour. There is a lot to be done to make labour migration more sustainable and beneficial to both parties. A lot of hurdles need to be cleared. One of them is racism and lack of career progression among African workers in the German labour market.

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