REPLACEMENTS: German government in talks to allow 250,000 Kenyan migrants to fill worker shortage
By Cassie B. // May 16, 2023

The German government is working on an agreement to allow 250,000 Kenyan migrants to enter the country and fill a shortage of skilled workers.

In a joint press conference, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Kenyan President William Ruto announced that Germany would bring in skilled and semi-skilled workers as well as professionals to work in the country. Kenya is also pushing Germany to loosen its immigration restrictions on those coming from Kenya to facilitate the process.

President Ruto stated: “We have agreed to establish a technical team from my office and the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labour in both countries, to initiate discussions, expeditiously navigate the procedures and formulate an appropriate framework for the export of labor to Germany.”

The proposed agreement would also see Kenyan technical and vocational training colleges partnering with their German counterparts to incentivize the move to Germany among graduates and align accreditation standards. Ruto said that basic and higher education institutes would also start teaching German to students, with Germany agreeing to support them in training instructors.

At the same time, however, Ruto complained about the way that trade deals between the two nations favor Germany. He said that while Kenya’s exports to Germany totaled $130 million in 2021, their imports were valued at $392 million.

“I have therefore called on the Chancellor to review tariff barriers and allow Kenyan products to enter Germany as well as the European market,” he said.

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Kenyan economy could suffer from loss of skilled workers

It is not clear, however, how losing a quarter of a million skilled workers would impact the Kenyan economy. The country is already dealing with extreme poverty, inadequate health services and one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. At least 19 million Kenyans drink unsafe water, with fatal infections and diarrhea a constant problem and more than 5,000 children dying each year as a result.

The “brain drain” that occurs when skilled workers like doctors leave for other countries could make Kenya even more unstable and raise mortality as well.

Kenya also has one of the highest crime rates in Africa, with rampant corruption and police working directly with criminals by providing firearms to gangs, assisting in the transportation of stolen goods, and releasing criminals in exchange for bribes. In addition, many people who have obtained credentials from universities there got them through bribery, cheating and other dishonest means, making it difficult for European authorities to determine whose qualifications are legitimate.

Less than a third of Germans support taking in migrants seeking work opportunities

Questions are also swirling about why Germany would turn to an African country rather than one closer geographically and culturally to recruit such a significant volume of new workers.

This news comes against a backdrop of the German population reaching record highs. Meanwhile, migrants who are already in the country are dealing with very high unemployment rates. State governments there have been imploring the federal government to slow immigration.

A recent survey carried out for Infratest Dimap found that most Germans believe immigration presents disadvantages for the country, with more than half of Germans saying they would like their country to take in fewer migrants and refugees; just 40 percent said the same three years ago. In the poll, only 30 percent supported the idea of taking in individuals who are seeking work opportunities.

Germany is the seventh most popular destination for Kenyan migrants, coming in just behind its neighboring countries and English-speaking nations. There are currently believed to be more than 14,000 Kenyans living there.

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