Uganda: Stakeholders Meet Over Labour Externalization As Ugandans Working in Middle East Hit 350,000

11 May 2022
Nile Post News (Kampala)

The first ever high level diaspora and labour externalization symposium organized by the Office of the President through the diaspora office has kicked off in Kampala.

The two day symposium under the theme, "Accelerating overseas employment for sustainable development will bring together stakeholders in the diaspora and labour externalisation sectors both in government and the private sector.

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Speaking during the opening ceremony, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs, Amb. Abbey Walusimbi noted that the symposium is meant to among others discuss the challenges and ways of correcting the problems in the labour externalization business.

"We know the enemy well and he is amidst us like a weed in an unkempt garden. The illegal recruiters who bunk outside the labour recruitment companies have exposed many of our Ugandans to heinous acts at the hands of unworthy employers. This means as stakeholders, we all have a role to play to ensure we correct this bloody picture painted of the labour externalization industry,"Walusimbi said.

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He however noted that all hope is not lost, adding that something can be done to reverse this gloomy situation and picture that has seen many Ugandans suffer.

Amb.Walusimbi said he was tasked by President Museveni to help bring together all stakeholders in the sector to see to it that something is done to arrest the worsening situation.

"I have realized that the challenges that exist are very manageable if all stakeholders are focused on realistic solutions rather than finger pointing and threatening suspensions and penalties. Therefore, as Ugandan stakeholders, we need to play our role."

He noted that it is high time the Ugandan community in the Middle East is organized by all stakeholders to ensure yields for the country and the Ugandans at large.

"There is need to facilitate transparent and empathetic information flow between job seekers and employers but also put in place a method through which all key diaspora management authorities share information with the President's Office in charge of diaspora affairs for a rational monitoring."

The State Minister for Labour, Charles Engola said his ministry will do all it takes to ensure labour externalization is well managed.

"I hope at the end of this conference we shall have come up with concrete solutions to the problems," he said.

Speaking during the same meeting, Baker Akantambira, the chairman of the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies(UAERA), the umbrella body for labour recruitment companies said the number of Ugandans working abroad, especially in the Middle East has gradually gone up.

He revealed that official figures indicate that there are currently 358000 Ugandans working in the Middle East countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

"We have records that indicate that these Ugandans remit back home $1.2 billion annually,"Akantambira said.

Making a case for labour externalization, the chairman of the labour externalization companies said with the increase in Uganda's population, especially the youth, many of these move abroad in search for greener pastures.

"Our youths have very active blood that if they are idle, they can become a devil's workshop. It is therefore very important that this sector of labour externalization absorbs many youths who would otherwise be a problem to the country."

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