Labour export earned govt Shs25b in two years 

The money was mainly earned from expression of interest fees, fines, accreditation, job orders and license fees. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • Government earned Shs25b from 120,459 migrant workers exported in the two years to 2023
  • The money was mainly earned from expression of interest fees, fines, accreditation, job orders, and license fees

Government earned Shs25b from exportation of migrant workers in the two years to 2023, Ministry of Gender data indicates. 

The money was largely earned from expression of interest fees, fines, accreditation, job orders (local and foreign) and license fees.  

Data contained in the January 2022 and December 2023 Labour Externalisation Statistics report by the Ministry of Gender, shows that government earned the largest income of Shs24.5 from local and foreign job orders.

Fees due to local job orders earned government Shs324m, while foreign job orders raked in Shs24.1b. 

Data further shows that the largest sum from job orders was in 2022, which brought in Shs17b compared to Shs7b in 2023. 

During the period, 390 companies were licensed at Shs2m, which raked in Shs780m, while accreditation earned Shs21m. 

Other income sources included expression of interest fees and fines, which earned government Shs58.8m and Shs72m, respectively. 

However, the report indicates that earnings in all categories sharply dropped in 2023, which, Ms Ritah Nakonde, a labour officer at the Ministry of Gender, said last week was due to the delayed renewal of a bilateral labour externalisation agreement between Uganda and Saudi Arabia. 

Saudi Arabia took  a share of at least 89.1 percent of Uganda’s migrant workers.  

Data indicates that earnings sharply dropped to Shs7.3b in 2023 from Shs17.7b in 2022 due to a delay in renewal of the agreement.  The report does not explain the delayed renewal. 

In the two years to December 2023, at least 120,459 migrant workers left Uganda in search of employment, majority of whom were women at 77.5 percent or 109,773 compared to 10,686 males. 

The Middle East remained the destination of choice, with 89.1 percent or 107,448 out of the 120,459 workers heading to Saudi Arabia.

Ms Nakonde said that the delay in renewing the externalisation agreement with Saudi Arabia saw recruitment agencies lose job orders, thus the decline in income and labour numbers.  During 2023, only 27,063 migrant workers left the country compared to 93,396 in 2022. 

Qatar followed Saudi Arabia as the destination of choice, taking in at least 6,086 or 5.05 percent in the two years, while UAE took in 4,457, Somalia (1,108), Iraq (1,081), Kuwait (262) and Bahrain (six). 

Outside the Middle East, seven and four Ugandans travelled to Europe, particularly Poland and Romania, respectively.  

Labour externalisation remains one of Uganda’s main sources of employment, helping government to absorb hundreds of unemployed youth.    

The report notes that the majority of migrant workers are employed in casual jobs, such as housemaids or helps, security guards, cleaners, drivers, waiters, and waitresses. 

House helps dominate the list, followed by cleaners, general helpers, merchandisers, and supermarket attendants.

There are at least 220,000 migrant Ugandan workers employed - on new and running contracts - in the Middle East as house helps, about 30,000 security guards, and more than 10,000 drivers.