Benefiting from migration:
Development policy approaches

Mansoura, Ethiopia: A vocational counsellor working at a project supported by the GIZ. Coypright: Ralf Bäcker/

As part of its de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion efforts, Germany pro­motes po­lit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and social reforms in partner coun­tries. It is com­mitted to the non-violent man­age­ment of con­flicts and works to strength­en civil society. Yet it takes time for a popu­la­tion to see tangible improvements. The pres­sures to migrate that build up in these coun­tries can only be al­leviated with­in a long-term de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion frame­work. We can never­the­less help to man­age mi­gra­tion in ways that will benefit both the coun­tries of origin and the receiving countries.

In its de­vel­op­ment policy, Germany sees migration as a con­tri­bu­tion to de­vel­op­ment and endeavours to minimise the associated risks. To this end, the BMZ works close­ly with other gov­ern­ment depart­ments to en­sure that its ef­forts dove­tail with, for instance, for­eign, domestic, labour mar­ket and ed­u­ca­tion policies. The BMZ is, among other things, helping to shape na­tion­al and in­ter­national frame­works for migration in ways that re­flect the needs of poor coun­tries. One ini­tia­tive in this con­text is to push for rules that make it easier for workers from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to migrate legal­ly to another country.

Within Germany, the BMZ seeks to raise awareness of the causes of mi­gra­tion and the op­por­tu­ni­ties it brings. The Ministry regards mi­grants as im­por­tant co­op­er­a­tion part­ners in its de­vel­op­ment ed­u­ca­tion work. As mem­bers of an ac­tive civil society both in Ger­many and in their coun­tries of origin, migrants can build bridges be­tween these nations.

European initiatives

At the European level, the BMZ plays an active role in shaping policy on migration. The European Union has developed a number of initiatives here, including:

  • Blue Card
    The intro­duc­tion of an "EU Blue Card" is intended to make it easier for high­ly qualified individuals to mi­grate to EU Member States. The idea is to re­con­cile the interests of European and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries by ap­ply­ing ethical prin­ciples to re­cruit­ment and by engaging in an in­ten­sive dia­logue with the coun­tries of origin. This ap­proach is designed to tackle labour short­ages in the EU with­out causing a mas­sive loss of know-how in the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. The BMZ is push­ing for ap­pro­pri­ate re­cruit­ment rules – start­ing with the health sec­tor – to be uni­form­ly ap­plied in every coun­try across the European Union.

  • Circular migration
    Migration only creates op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries if mi­grants are able to re­tain close links with the coun­try they once lived in. Cir­cular mi­gra­tion enables them to inter­rupt their stay in the guest coun­try and re­turn to their coun­try of origin for a period of time. This means they can con­tri­bute the know­ledge and skills acquired abroad to the eco­nom­ic and social life of their own coun­try and divide their time and energy be­tween the two coun­tries. An im­por­tant aspect here is rec­og­ni­tion of ed­u­ca­tion­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions. The Coalition Agree­ment, which underpins the policies of the German gov­ern­ment, con­tains a com­mit­ment to es­tab­lish­ing a legal en­title­ment to the rec­og­ni­tion of ed­u­ca­tion­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions and vocational skills.

  • Mobility partnerships
    In order to exercise some joint control over the migration process as a whole, the EU is entering into agree­ments with coun­tries of origin and transit coun­tries. These are known as mobility part­ner­ships. This move is designed to re­con­cile the specific needs of migrants, coun­tries of or­i­gin and re­ceiv­ing coun­tries. It facilitates ac­cess to the Euro­pean labour mar­ket as well as re­in­te­gra­tion in the coun­try of origin. The EU is also help­ing coun­tries of origin to tackle the causes of in­vol­un­tary mi­gra­tion. For its part, the BMZ is par­tic­i­pating in pilot mobility part­ner­ships with the Republic of Mol­davia, Georgia and Armenia.

Bilateral co­op­er­a­tion

In the field of bilateral co­op­er­a­tion, the BMZ has also de­vel­op­ed a number of in­stru­ments to address mi­gra­tion issues. They are designed to help part­ner coun­tries with whom Germany is engaged in de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion to har­ness the potential offered by mi­gra­tion more effectively.

Policy advice in coun­tries of origin

All sides must work together so that migration can deliver ben­e­fits for every­one in­volved. A key role is played here by the policies adopted by coun­tries of origin towards their mi­grants and re­tur­nees. To de­vel­op suc­cess­ful strat­e­gies and enter into ar­range­ments such as mo­bil­i­ty part­ner­ships with the EU, the coun­tries of or­i­gin must first of all know the pro­files of their emi­grants. They must know who is leaving the coun­try, what skills the mi­grants have, which coun­tries they are moving to, and what the con­se­quences are – both positive and negative – for their own coun­try.

The BMZ assists part­ner coun­tries in the task of analysing their own situ­a­tion, de­vel­op­ing strat­e­gies for handling future mi­gra­tion and build­ing ded­i­cated gov­ern­ment de­part­ments for migration affairs.

Facilitating money transfers

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Video: Price comparison for remittances with

On average, migrants send be­tween 20 and 30 per cent of their in­come to fam­i­ly and friends in their coun­try of or­i­gin. Ac­cord­ing to World Bank es­ti­mates, re­mit­tances from migrants to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries total­led 406 bil­lion dol­lars in 2012. That is a sum more than three times higher than the ove­rall figure for of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance (ODA) from the OECD states (134 bil­lion dol­lars in 2011). And it must be as­sumed that mi­grants send far more money back home via in­for­mal chan­nels. Numerous de­vel­op­ing coun­tries are now eco­nom­ic­al­ly de­pen­dent on these in­flows of money from abroad. In Ta­jik­i­stan, for in­stance, re­mit­tances make up near­ly 30 per cent of gross na­tion­al product.

Sending money safely to coun­tries of origin can prove a major problem for mi­grants. Many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries have no nation-wide bank­ing sys­tem. Among the poorer sec­tions of society, few peo­ple have their own bank ac­count. Al­though cash transfer ser­vices are of­fer­ed by some fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, fees charged can be very high. This ex­plains why so many migrants ask compatriots who are travel­ling home to take cash with them or use the in­for­mal transfer sys­tems offered by money changers.

Working on behalf of the BMZ and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Frank­furt School of Finance & Man­age­ment, the Deutsche Ge­sell­schaft für In­ter­natio­nale Zu­sam­men­arbeit (GIZ) has set up a website to foster legal, safe and af­ford­able re­mit­tance ar­range­ments. The site,, keeps migrants in­form­ed about the ser­vices offered by various fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and the prices charged.

Germany also helps partner coun­tries to es­tab­lish and strength­en their own fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions. This benefits the relatives of mi­grants by giving them op­por­tu­ni­ties to save re­mit­tances safe­ly. They can also take out micro-loans and re­ceive advice on in­vest­ment mat­ters and business start-ups.

Supporting migrants' organisations

Many migrants living in Germany come to­gether in associations and form net­works as part of a com­mon com­mit­ment to help­ing their coun­tries of or­i­gin. Such diaspora com­mu­ni­ties col­lect donations and ini­tiate aid projects.

Germany supports non-profit collaborative pro­jects of this kind be­cause they benefit both sides. Of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion can draw on the con­tacts migrants have forged with local com­mu­ni­ties, orga­ni­sa­tions and decision-makers on the ground. And, for their part, the migrants' orga­ni­sa­tions can benefit from the know-how of­fer­ed by the BMZ's im­ple­ment­ing orga­ni­sa­tions. Thanks to their ex­per­tise and know-how in pro­ject man­age­ment, the Ger­man ex­perts en­sure the smooth im­ple­men­ta­tion of joint projects.

Strengthening private-sector activity

Many migrants are highly active in their com­mit­ment to their coun­try of or­i­gin and in­vest in that coun­try with the aim of im­proving living con­di­tions. A large number of them pur­sue com­mer­cial interests by found­ing busi­nes­ses or trading in pro­ducts be­tween their old and new home coun­tries. Not only do these activities benefit the coun­tries of or­i­gin, they also boost eco­nom­ic ac­tiv­i­ty in Germany.

The BMZ promotes relevant private-sector ini­tia­tives under­taken by mi­grants. They are pro­vided with valuable know-how on mar­kets, quality standards and trading regulations. Ad­vi­sory ser­vices tailored to the specific needs of mi­grants are avail­able on all aspects of start­ing and run­ning a busi­ness. More­over, as­sis­tance is given to fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to help them es­tab­lish lend­ing ser­vices geared specifically to migrants and their families.

Advice is also given to the govern­ments of part­ner coun­tries on ways of improving the in­vest­ment and busi­ness climate at home. This is im­por­tant because mi­grants running a busi­ness from abroad need, above all, legal cer­tain­ty and straight­forward pro­cedures for establishing a company.

Assisting skilled returnees

Two women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, studying a brochure. Copyright: Ralf Bäcker/version-foto.deGermany is home to large numbers of people from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries as well as emerging econ­o­mies and transition coun­tries. They study in Ger­ma­ny, train here and pur­sue careers here in highly qualified positions. Many of them plan to re­turn to their coun­try of or­i­gin at a later date. Their ex­per­tise, language pro­fi­ciency and in­ter­national contacts make them valuable part­ners for the pri­vate sec­tor and for de­vel­op­ment cooperation.

To harness this potential, the BMZ has created the Migration for De­vel­op­ment Programme, which includes a component for as­sist­ing re­turn­ing ex­perts. The ser­vices offered here in­clude in­for­ma­tion events, one-to-one advice on re­turn­ing and career planning, help find­ing a job and op­por­tu­ni­ties for net­work­ing with im­por­tant actors in the partner coun­try. If re­tur­nees want to work in a field of particular relevance to de­vel­op­ment policy, they may also qualify for fi­nan­cial sup­port, for ex­ample in the form of a salary top-up.

In individual coun­tries, such as Morocco and Cameroon, the pro­gramme also assists mi­grants in start­ing their own busi­ness in their coun­try of origin.

Moreover, companies and insti­tu­tions looking for suit­able staff in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries can, for their part, turn to the BMZ pro­gramme for help with con­tacts. An ap­pli­cant data­base and an ex­ten­sive job ex­change plat­form en­able potential em­ployers and ap­pli­cants to come together.

Expanding de­vel­op­ment education

A vocational school teacher from Viet Nam during a presentation at the vocational training centre in Magedeburg, Germany. Copyright: Ralf Bäcker/version-foto.deThrough its de­vel­op­ment information and ed­u­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, the BMZ seeks to foster greater ac­cep­tance of mi­grants in Ger­many. This ed­u­ca­tion­al work is aimed at raising in­terest in de­vel­op­ing and tran­si­tion coun­tries and en­cour­aging critical re­flec­tion on their situ­a­tion. In this way, large sec­tions of so­ci­e­ty gain an in­sight into the causes of mi­gra­tion from de­vel­op­ing and emerg­ing econ­o­mies and the op­por­tu­ni­ties that mi­gra­tion of­fers. The mes­sage put across by the Ministry is that Ger­ma­ny not only has a glob­al re­spon­si­bil­i­ty but also derives ben­e­fits from taking in foreigners.

In this context, the BMZ wants to motivate in­div­i­duals to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­i­ty as members of society and play an active role in the com­mu­ni­ty. Mi­grants, too, can make a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion here. Through their inter­course with Ger­mans, they communicate knowledge about their own coun­try of origin and explain its specific problems and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, thus help­ing to over­come pre­judices and foster mutual under­stand­ing. The BMZ's de­vel­op­ment ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts there­fore in­clude the fund­ing of pro­jects that pro­mote inter­cul­tural ex­change of this type.

Moreover, the Ministry supports local authorities in Ger­ma­ny in their ef­forts to over­come cul­tural bar­riers, strength­en and widen con­tacts with migrants' orga­ni­sa­tions, and in­volve them in municipal-level de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion.

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