Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The movement of able-bodied people from their countries for odd jobs in the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar should be a cause for worry among African states.
Hilda Namakula, a researcher from Makerere University says that Chinese and Arabs are hiring Africans to go and do odd jobs in their home countries, yet they cannot hire Africans for work when their multinational companies get contracts to do work in Africa. This, she said, is a worrisome trend.
Many African states, including Uganda, have seen most of their young people take flights to the Middle East and push to go to Europe to get work opportunities due to the high levels of unemployment in Africa. Although some have got opportunities, many have been mistreated and several other lives lost.
Namakula said African countries could have their young people put to better. With no able-bodied young people, African countries cannot build powerhouse manufacturing systems, innovate and expand their economies.
She was discussing the scramble for the Horn of Africa by the gulf states and western countries and specifically the coast of the red sea. This was on Friday evening at the Kampala geopolitics conference at Makerere University.
Beyond migration of young people, the complicated issue was whether the Horn of Africa countries – Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea – and their neighbors, have become a battleground for control by the rich countries.
China has built an army base in Djibouti close to the US’. The US has an interest in Somalia, where Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Kenya have armies fighting Al-Shabaab. The bills for the soldiers under the African Union Mission to Somalia are met by the United Nations and European powers.
Charles Onyango Obbo, a journalist and publisher of Africapedia, said the gesture behind the Chinese building the African Union headquarters was to be a big player on the continent.
He said also, Germany built the Peace and Security council headquarters in Addis Ababa basically to take control of this council – extensively signifying Europe’s interest.
Other participants said strengthening the local integration bodies, including the East African Community would enable the African countries to negotiate better and benefit even as rich countries scramble to actualize their interests in the Horn of Africa and beyond.
Dr Edward Kaweesi, a security tutor at Makerere University, said the dilemma is that even these regional integration organizations depend on the money either from Europe or building by China to run.