Labour migration

Work on labour migration in Africa takes place at three levels: regional, sub-regional (with Regional Economic Communities) and country level.


At the regional level

labour migration has been chosen as one of the four key policy areas of the African Union Commission (AUC)’s Ouagadougou + 10 Declaration and Plan of Action on Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development.

The ILO, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in collaboration with the AUC, have developed a joint programme on labour migration to support the implementation of the labour migration component of the AU Migration Policy Framework for Africa.

This joint programme will also support the implementation of the Ouagadougou + 10 Plan of Action through inter-regional collaboration and Regional Economic Communities. A mechanism for peer review will be established between the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West

African States (ECOWAS), and collaboration will be established with social partners at national, sub-regional and regional levels.

At the sub-regional level


Key intervention is revolves around the implementation of the ECOWAS project funded by the 10th European Development Fund, which focuses on “Support to

Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa” (2013-2018) in collaboration with the IOM and ICMPD.

A key component of this programme relates to enhanced labour migration data within labour market information systems in the sub-region. More recently, within the ambit of SADC, Ministers of Labour and Employment and the Social Partners, at their annual meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (10-11 July), approved the SADC Labour Migration Policy Framework. The Framework provides a basis for all SADC member states to develop rights-based national labour migration policies by 2019.

In addition, the ILO provides technical support and capacity building to improve decent work opportunities for women migrant domestic workers travelling from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East. This is anchored within the project “Development of a Tripartite Framework for the Support and Protection of Ethiopian Women Domestic Migrant Workers to the GCC States, Lebanon and Sudan”.

The project also aims at making regular migration more accessible in order to curb irregular migration and ensure safety and rights for the migrants. The project provides support to the Ethiopian government on migration governance and the development of bilateral agreements. Due to the number of Ethiopians being sent back to Ethiopia from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the past months, the project focus has partly shifted to support to reintegration measures.

Support is also provided to countries in the Maghreb region through the project on “Improving the governance of labour migration and the protection of migrant workers’ rights in Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt” (2013-2016). Specific interventions include capacity building support to labour attachés, enhanced labour migration governance through social dialogue, financial education for migrant workers as well as strengthened trade union capacity to better protect the rights of workers. Finally, a national plan of action for Egypt is being finalized to strengthen labour migration governance.

At country level


Member States which have prioritized labour migration in their DWCPs are supported in diverse ways.
  • The Office works closely with the government of Uganda towards integrating international labour standards (ILS) in labour migration management processes and procedures. The government seeks to utilize the Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration with a focus on the protection and human rights of migrants.
  • ILO also provides support on capacity building to the Ministry of Labour of Kenya in developing Bilateral Labour Agreements aligned to ILS and facilitating social dialogue on migration nationally and as part of the EAC processes.
  • In partnership with the EU-funded project “Promoting Better Management of Migration in Nigeria”, the ILO supports the protection of migrant workers and development of M&E tools for the National Policy on Labour Migration and its Action Plan.
  • Countries like Lesotho which have officially requested the ILO to provide support for the development of national labour migration policies, are also receiving technical assistance