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Externalization of labor can be a game changer for youth

External employment has contributed greatly to employing young Ugandans

COMMENT | Samson Tinka |  It is estimated that there are over 100,000 Ugandans working in the Middle East alone.

Remittances from Ugandans in the diaspora is said to bring into the country $1 billion every year. This is actually a drop by $300million, from close to $1.4 bilion, because of COVID-19.

Uganda still remained among the top 10 recipient of remittances on the continent, staying in top position among sub Saharan African countries.

Employment abroad has supported individual Ugandans and their relatives to live a better life. In fact, those who pioneered this venture and were serious have not regretted.

I know several who started as security guards, then became supervisors later. They returned home and formed recruitment companies and are now billionaires

We should remember that the proprietor of pinnacle security group Moses Matsiko Baryamujura started same way. He is currently the chairman of Pinnacle Group and his contribution to private security industry in Uganda and in the region is immense.

Pinnacle security with its sister companies SPC protectorate and water tight are brand names. Of course locally they employ thousands of Ugandans but also contribute to the overall security function in Uganda.

External employment in the Middle East specifically has been largely a success to Ugandans not withstanding some individual challenges.

For the record, some Ugandans who have died, fallen sick, while others have been mistreated in their pursuit of jobs in these countries.

My view is those who have benefitted far outweigh those who have had setbacks. Certainly those whose children have been a victim will yearn for my head but the reality is that this is not a so bad record.

Over the years both government and recruitment agencies have endeavored to streamline this sector and many engagements have taken place, policies put in place, procedures laid down and ministerial statements issued among others. Government has gone ahead to involve Middle East governments to ensure there is a fair, equitable trade among the major stakeholders.

In the last three months, two airlines from Saudi Arabia have formalized their landing rights and have since commenced scheduled flights. The driver of this interest to fly to East Africa was external employment. T

These direct flights have since reduced ticket fares between Entebbe to Jeddah and Riyad. This is good for all parties since it reduces cost of doing business.

Also, because of these scheduled flights, Ugandan food is now heading to Saudi Arabia and the biggest beneficially of this is a Ugandan local farmer of pineapples in Kayunga or even a coffee farmer in Mbale.

As part of deliberate government efforts to streamline external employment sector, the Prime Minister’s office organized a retreat for major players in this sector recently.

Close to 215 employment agencies owners and senior employees attended the retreat in Jinja. It resulted in the creation of an external deployment desk in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Currently this desk is headed by Laban Musinguzi

At the retreat, he assured participants of continuous support from MOFA with constant engagements.

The setup of  this desk was as a result of requests for consular services that migrant workers seek often, and since MOFA don’t always have information about these Ugandans, it was becoming harder to offer timely assistance .

With slightly above 110,000 Ugandans working in middle east, it’s a big relief to the government of Uganda facing acute shortage of employment.

The Middle East is important because the over 100,000 Ugandans there are equal to a third of the country’s entire civil service.

There is even potential for more employment opportunities both in the Middle East and the rest of Asia. The figure could grow from 100,000 to 200,000.

Therefore, government officials responsible for supporting this sector should up the game. In circumstances where the unemployment problems are being solved for it, government should be meeting all costs associated with labor migration like paying for passports, medical insurance during flight and airport transfer fees. The government should even create special desk at passport offices to expedite applications of migrant workers.

The Middle East is offloading the baggage of unemployment with its associated evils off Uganda’s head.  Lack of jobs neighbors criminality. Idle minds breads criminality.

Any forward looking and visionary government officer should therefore support meaningful labour migration for Ugandans.

The country’s population is growing at one of the fastest rates in the world, universities and tertiary institutions are many and producing many qualified Ugandan youth, but few jobs are available in the country.

This is not good for the economy and for politics. You have adults who are educated but unproductive.  Therefore, when such a chance of being employed surfaces, the responsible government officials should double the effort to support it.

So the country expects  those given responsibility in this sector, like MOFA’s Musinguzi, to drive this agenda.

Ugandan youth needs to see a seamless process of going to work for their future. They need to work and come in invest in their country. They need to go and work and bring back positive testimonies.

Externalization of labour is the current cash cow for Uganda. Leave alone your oil, this is the real game changer.

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 Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd tindsam@yahoo

 

 

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