While several countries have experienced strong economic growth in recent years, this has yet to translate into significant job creation. Labour markets must absorb large numbers of new workers entering the labour force each year as a result of population growth, while contending with structural difficulties in creating decent employment.
A ‘vicious circle’ of limited access to education and adequate training, low wages and low-productivity jobs, and lack of basic protections leave many youth and workers excluded from fully participating in economic growth and development.
Labour migration can provide a safety valve to reduce the pressures on national labour markets that do not provide sufficient opportunities for decent work; at the same time migrant workers fill skills gaps and meet labour market demands, thereby helping countries of destination sustain their economic growth.
Free Movement of Persons
At the regional level, IGAD countries have committed to achieve greater regional integration and improve migration governance through the development appropriate legal and policy frameworks including establishment of a regional free movement regime.
There is increasing recognition that free movement agreements have an immediate effect on the decent working conditions of migrant workers, as they provide access to legal channels for migration as well as a normative framework for addressing the migrants’ rights.
Within this context, the ILO is implementing a project titled “Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD Region: Improving Opportunities for Regular Labour Mobility” in collaboration with IGAD Secretariat and its Member States as a core element of a larger programme: “Towards Free Movement of Persons and Transhumance in the IGAD region”.
“The overall objective of the project is to improve opportunities for regulated labour mobility and decent work within the IGAD countries through the development of models of intervention, in the broader context of the regional integration,” said Alexio Musindo, Director of the ILO Office for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.
“In the long-term, it is expected to extend decent work opportunities to current and potential migrants within the region, as well as contribute to regional integration, strengthen the link between economic growth and job growth, and enhance the social and economic integration of migrants,” he added.
The project’s interventions cover two main areas: knowledge-building and operational implementation.
The knowledge-building component seeks to deepen understanding of migration and labour market dynamics in the region, including the constraints and opportunities for employment creation and causes of skills shortages.
The operational component will impact current and potential migrants through development of employment and skills opportunities focussing its pilot actions in the Ethiopia-Sudan migration corridor.
Involving social partners
Despite their central role in addressing labour market and labour migration governance challenges, the involvement of social partners in labour migration discussions is quite limited both at national and regional level. With this project, the ILO is supporting workers and employers’ organizations to engage and work with IGAD on pertinent labour migration and mobility governance challenges at the regional level.
In this regard, among other things, a consultation with social partners on the Draft IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons was held on May 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The overall objective of the workshop was to foster exchange of ideas among workers’ organizations and employers’ organisations in the region and enhance the contribution of social partners in the drafting of the IGAD protocol on Free Movement of persons.
More precisely, the consultation aimed to sensitize social partners about the draft free movement protocol, simulate discussions around the free movement of persons and workers, gather concrete inputs, comments and recommendations from the social partners on the IGAD Draft Free movement Protocol and further implementation of the IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons once it is adopted by member States.
(1) IGAD Member States are: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.