Labour migration

First-Ever African Labour Migration Conference Kicks Off in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

ILO and African Union Commission join forces to protect migrant workers' rights

Press release | 18 October 2023
Abidjan (ILO News) – A historic moment unfolds today, 18 October, as a total of 80 ministerial representatives, migration experts and stakeholders convene in Côte d'Ivoire for the inaugural African Labour Migration Conference. This three-day (18 – 20 October) groundbreaking event marks a significant step in addressing the dynamic and ever-growing aspects of labour migration within and from the African continent.

The African Labour Migration Conference, aptly named ALMC23, organized by the African Union, International Labour Organization, Labour bodies and other stakeholders, recognizes the multifaceted nature of labour migration in Africa. It is shaped by a myriad of factors, including demographic developments, economic and labour market realities, cultural diversity, environmental considerations, and security dynamics. The dynamic and growing nature of migratory flows underscores the importance of considering countries as potential points of origin, transit, and destination, depending on the diverse flows involved.

With a striking 80% of labour migration in Africa being inter-regional, the need for a regional approach to address common challenges faced by migrant workers becomes evident. ALMC23 aims to serve as a vital platform for African member states, regional communities, and social partner organizations to collaboratively develop and implement appropriate policies and practical actions.

Sabelo Mbokazi, Head of Labour, Employment and Migration Division at AUC
"According to the African Labour Migration Statistics Report, international labour migration within Africa has been on the rise, with an increase from 17.2 million in 2010 to 26.3 million in 2019. Throughout that period, women have accounted for around 45 per cent of international migrants", Mr. Sabelo Mbokazi, the Head of Labour, Employment and Migration Division at AUC, emphasized the importance of gender-responsive policies in migration.

ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa
“Despite all actions and frameworks, we remain with significant implementation gaps. We need to acknowledge that progress does not translate sufficiently into decent work for migrant workers,” ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, Ms Fanfan Rwanyindo Kayirangwa noted.


Dié Kakou Henri, Technical Counselor, representing Cote d'Ivoire’s Minister of Employment and Social Protection
“We need to discuss ways to recalibrate the recruitment process. And this conference should be the stage we do this. We need to think of innovative all-stakeholder approaches to protect workers because even those promoting modern day slavery in work know how to beat the system,” Dié Kakou Henri, the Technical Counselor, representing Cote d'Ivoire’s Minister of Employment, said.

One of the paramount objectives of this conference is to discuss ways to strengthen the governance of labour migration at continental, RECs, and Member State levels. Often, migrant workers face undue hardships and abuses throughout their migration and employment processes. To ensure the maximization of benefits for these workers and their families, as well as the minimization of associated risks and social costs, establishing fair and effective governance of labour migration is imperative.

The high-level conference is converging distinguished representatives from governments, employers, and workers hailing from selected African countries and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) actively engaged in labour migration governance within and beyond the region. Notable participants include delegates from RECs such as the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD), and Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).

Additionally, present are tripartite delegations representing participating countries, which include Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Tunisia, Egypt, Tanzania, and Chad. Regional social partner organizations such as the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the Confederation of African Trade Union (CSI Afrique), and the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) will also actively contribute to the discussions.

Over the three-day course of this event, participants will engage in thought-provoking discussions, share valuable insights, and work towards shaping the future of labour migration governance in Africa. They will develop a communique highlighting the AU Member States common position how to better protect migrant workers.
The first-ever African Labour Migration Conference promises to be a catalyst for change, fostering greater cooperation and understanding among all stakeholders involved.

Group photo of the participants after the opening ceremony

For further information please contact:

Mr. Sabelo Mbokazi I Head of the Labour, Employment and Migration Division I African Union Commission I Email: MbokaziS@africa-union.org

Ms. Odette Sarr Bolly I Coordinator – Joint Labour Migration Programme I African Union Commission I Email: odetteb@africa-union.org

Ms. Coumba Diop | Labour Migration and Mobility Specialist, ILO Regional Office for Africa | Email: diopc@ilo.org

For media inquiries, please contact:

1. Mr. Innocent Vuga | Communication and Knowledge Management Officer –JLMP I African Union Commission | E-mail: vugai@africa-union.org

2. Mr. Francois Gombahi | Communication and Public Information Officer – ILO, Abidjan | Email: kouassig@ilo.org