24,086 Ugandans seek jobs in Middle East every year

Ugandan migrant workers wait for clearance at Entebbe International Airport in 2018.  Photo | File

What you need to know:

  • The UN estimates that more than 620,000 Ugandans live outside the country, working in East Africa, Africa, Europe, Asia, Americas and Middle East, among others. 

At least 16,397 Ugandans left the country between January and February in search of employment, according to data from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. 
The details are contained in a Ministry of Gender migrant labour report that covers at least six years from 2016 and part of 2022.
The report indicates that at least an average of 24,086 Ugandans leave Uganda annually in search of employment, especially to the Middle East. 

In the last six years, the report indicates, Saudi Arabia has been the destination of choice for many Ugandans searching for employment with the country taking a total of 126,873, which represents at least 75.2 percent of total migrant workers in the Middle East. 
Saudi Arabia is followed by United Arab Emirates, which in the last six years has taken in 19,671 workers followed by Qatar with an intake of 8,089.

During the period Jordan took in 4,520 workers while Iraq and Somalia took in 4,420 and 2,294, respectively.  
Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait took in 1,450, 1,098 and 176 workers, respectively, while Poland, which is outside the Middle East but captured in the data, took in 16 migrant workers, which was the least number, according to captured data. 
The number of migrant workers seeking employment in the Middle East has been growing in the last 10 years, peaking to above 21,612 in 2018, before dropping sharply in 2020 to 9,026 due to Covid-19 disruptions. 

However, during 2021 it sharply recovered with at least 88,553, which was a record high, travelling to the Middle East in search of employment. 
The number is also expected to stay steady, given that at least 16,397 have already left for the Middle East in search of labour. Of this at least 14,894 are recorded to have left for Saudi Arabia. 
Labour export, which is also known as externalisation has become a global business with a number of countries using it as an avenue to fight unemployment.
Whereas the Ministry of Gender only captures data of migrant workers, a number of Ugandans have travelled out of the country over the years in search of employment. 
According to data from the United Nations, at least more than 620,000 Ugandans live outside the country and are employed within East Africa, Africa, Europe, Asia, Americas and Middle East, among others. 
Mr Milton Turyasiima, the Ministry of Gender assistant commissioner employment services, yesterday told Monitor that there has been growing demand for domestic workers in the Middle East, which explains the rising numbers to the region. 
However, the acute rise in the 2021 number could be explained by massive cancellation of existing and pending contracts due to Covid-19. 

Travel to the Gulf        
Every day, an estimated 300 Ugandans travel to the Gulf States, where they get employed in casual jobs that earn them  between $200 and $500 per month, which is way higher compared to what Ugandans doing domestic work within the country earn. Domestic workers in Uganda earn an average of Shs100,000. It is interesting to see that at least an average of 500 Ugandans travel to Somalia, a war ravaged country in search of employment. Most migrant workers work on contracts that last two or more years, but can always seek new contracts elsewhere.