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Kenya to boost labor emigration to enhance diaspora remittances

Nairobi, Kenya | XINHUA | Kenya’s Edwin Kamau secured a job as a mechanic in the gulf state of Qatar. He is set to join the growing number of Kenyans seeking greener pastures abroad.

The 27-year-old father of three was recruited last week by an employment agency based in Nairobi that takes job seekers to the Middle East after a rigorous screening process and is set to depart next month to start his new assignment.

Kamau has been working in a motor vehicle garage as a daily laborer for the past five years but his meager earnings are not sufficient to sustain his household. Kamau told Xinhua on Tuesday he decided to find work overseas after unsuccessful attempts to find employment in Kenya. “My plan is to send back part of my salary every month to my young family who will remain in Kenya,” he said in Nairobi.

There has been a mushrooming of private employment firms in the country in order to cash in on the demand. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, there are an estimated four million Kenyans living and working abroad. Diaspora remittances is currently Kenya’s highest foreign exchange earner exceeding revenues from tea, coffee, and tourism.

This year alone, the ministry said, the government has set a target to secure employment for over 30,000 Kenyans abroad. The bulk of Kenyans employed overseas are in the Middle East and Europe.

The National Employment Authority (NEA) said that by promoting the emigration of skilled and unskilled labor, the country stands to earn foreign exchange from Diaspora remittance that can be deployed to enhance the domestic economy.

NEA said that Kenya has already entered into a number of bilateral labor agreements with countries in the Middle East in order to facilitate labor migration and plans are also under way to sign similar agreements with countries in Europe.

The 28-year-old Norah Momanyi told Xinhua in Nairobi that she is also getting ready to fly to the United Arab Emirates after securing employment in the hospitality sector last month and is slated to begin working in July. Prior to getting the job in the Middle East, she was employed at a five-star hotel in Nairobi. Her target is to work for about five years and save enough money to start a business back in Kenya.

Harold Ochieng will also soon relocate to Qatar after securing employment as a construction worker in Qatar early this month. The father of two, who is set to depart in July, completed training in operating heavy machinery in a college located ot the outskirts of Nairobi three years ago and is keen to use his skills to provide for his family. He hopes to improve the fortunes of his family through the lucrative work contract he signed to work in the Middle East.

The ministry of labor observed that currently about 1.2 million Kenyans join the labor market every year but the formal and informal sectors only have the capacity to absorb some 800,000 annually.

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