In order to combat the root causes of economic migration, Germany has opened a job center in Ghana that helps people find local employment. But what happens when German bureaucracy comes head to head with the everyday reality in Ghana?
When the harmattan wind picks up dust from the Sahara and carries it down south, the sunlight reflecting off the glass façade of the Gnat Heights Tower is softened. On the ground floor of the seven-floor office building, the air conditioning drowns out the noise of Independence Avenue outside, along which traffic rushing into the center of the Ghanaian capital of Accra. The walls are painted gray, the new office furniture is of plain black wood and in the lobby in front of the consultation rooms, there’s a stand bearing informational materials that still smell as though they’ve come straight from the printer.
There are four chairs in the lobby. David Tette thinks that should be enough, at least at the beginning.
Tette comes from a poor village in eastern Ghana and is now essentially the director of the first German employment office located south of the Sahara. And he has done everything he can to make the office look to his compatriots like a serious German agency. It’s a morning in December, shortly after the agency opened its doors, and Tette is in his windowless office digging through a cabinet on the search for a package of Jacobs Krönung coffee — which, he says, is currently his primary source of sustenance. Tette is a short 55-year-old wearing a carefully trimmed moustache, a plaid jacket and neatly ironed trousers. He never dreamed that he might one day be the center of attention.
Tette glances at a photo showing him with a proud smile on his face next to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier when suddenly one of his two job consultants appears in the doorway and says that a young man was just in the office wanting to apply to an offshore oil company in Germany. Tette grabs his head. “Offshore?” he says incredulously. “In Germany?”