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Lebanese move to West Africa and avoid crisis at home

WowHenbanks Beginning to fail, protesters began filling the streets in 2019, Mussa Corey resisted the temptation to leave his hometown of Lebanon. He repaired a broken window and kept it intact after a large explosion in Beirut, the capital, flattened it last year. But in the end, he couldn’t stand the collapse of the Lebanese currency. Khoury runs a startup that sells vegetables grown in hydroponic planters. His customer paid him with lira, but his supplier demanded hard currency. So in April he accepted an offer from an acquaintance who promised to invest in the business — if Mr. Khoury moved it to Ghana.

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Over 250,000 Lebanese probably live in West Africa. It is impossible to know how many people have moved there since the onset of the Lebanese economic crisis in 2019, but evidence suggests that there are many. Lebanese pilots living in Togo say Lebanese are cramming flights to West Africa. The Lebanese embassy in Nigeria reports a “significant increase” in the migration of Lebanese to Nigeria. Guita Holani, who heads a migration research center at the University of Notre Dame Louise in Lebanon, is flooded with calls from locals seeking advice on how to track relatives abroad, including Africa. Is called.

Many Lebanese came to West Africa in the 19th century and disembarked from ships heading for the United States (some people mistakenly say it). The new arrival was a remarkable success, initially as an intermediary between locals and colonial power, and later as a business owner and trader. For example, today the Lebanese are reportedly controlling many companies in Côte d’Ivoire that handle coffee and cocoa exports.

Over a century of conflict, crisis and famine have scattered Lebanese people around the world. But lately, Lebanese have found it much easier to get a visa from a destination in West Africa than in the United States or European countries. It’s easy to get a job. Karim McKee, a Lebanese Senegalese, says someone knows someone who always has an opening. Skilled workers are well paid. And most West African countries already have Lebanese churches, mosques and schools.

Some newcomers will stay for a while. Take, for example, Ibrahim Chahine, a young mechanical engineer who left Lebanon last year. He says the visa process in Canada was a hassle. His application to the Gulf countries was unanswered. So when he got a job at a company run by a Lebanese in Nigeria, he didn’t think twice. Within two weeks he moved to the capital Abuja. He will stay for 10 years.

I’m not sure about Corey. He wanted to use his startup to boost agricultural production in Lebanon, which currently imports almost all food. Instead, he aims to build a greenhouse in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and sell baskets of kale, leek and lettuce to local supermarkets, restaurants and hotels. He plans to spend at least a year there. But his extended family has returned to Lebanon. And he left his surgery open there. He says it’s nostalgia, not profit. ■■

This article was published in the printed Middle East and Africa section under the heading “Go west, habibi”.

Lebanese move to West Africa and avoid crisis at home

Source link Lebanese move to West Africa and avoid crisis at home

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