Bridging Perspectives and Building Solutions: Towards Inclusive Labour Migration in East & Horn of Africa

"Opportunities and challenges on Labour Migration: An Experience-Sharing Forum among East African Countries"

Feature | 21 July 2023
The Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) Programme of the ILO convened the inaugural High-Level Labour Migration Advisory Group (LMAG) Forum for the East and Horn of Africa from 24th to 25th January 2023 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, centred around the theme: "Opportunities and challenges on Labour Migration: An Experience-Sharing Forum among East African Countries". Esteemed participants from various backgrounds came together to share insights, foster meaningful dialogue, and contribute to shaping the future of labour migration in the region.

This dynamic knowledge-sharing platform brought together 59 High-Level officials, including State Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Director Generals from Ministries of Labour, National Statistics Offices, Employers and Workers Organizations, and Private Employment Agencies (PrEAs) from Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Djibouti, and representatives from IGAD, EAC, ITUC-Africa, IOE, and UK FCDO.

Over the course of the two days, attendees delved into multifaceted topics, including labour migration trends and dynamics, labour migration experiences from ASEAN countries and Arab States, the roles of workers and employers in safeguarding migrant workers' rights, and an in-depth exploration of the BRMM Programme itself. The aim was to foster dialogue and knowledge exchange, paving the way for standardised and effective approaches to governing labour migration in the region. Essentially, participants meticulously reviewed and endorsed the working document of the BRMM Programme.

The participants underscored the paramountcy of maintaining and strengthening tripartism and social dialogue approaches throughout all stages of labour migration governance. From policy formulation to implementation, negotiation, monitoring, and reporting. Their collective call echoed the importance of inclusive collaboration. Moreover, attendees urged the ILO to extend support to Member States in enhancing the quality and relevance of skill development initiatives and pre-departure language training. By aligning these efforts with labour market integration goals, participants noted that desired outcomes can be magnified. The Forum also emphasised the necessity of harmonising training and qualification requirements, drawing inspiration from existing efforts of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and subregional programs, such as EASTRIP. Additionally, the imperative to raise awareness among key stakeholders, including parliamentarians, non-state actors, and media personalities, regarding the positive impact of labour migration took the centre stage. This concerted effort also fostered the formulation, adoption, and implementation of legal and policy frameworks that effectively govern labour migration, safeguarding the well-being of migrant workers.

The knowledge-sharing platform marked a transformative milestone in advancing labour migration governance. By harnessing the power of collaboration, the region is poised to embark on a journey of positive change, guided by standardised practices and collective wisdom. This landmark event galvanised participants to explore new avenues of cooperation, laying the groundwork for inclusive policies and frameworks that champion the rights and welfare of migrant workers. Through dialogue, shared experiences, and strategic partnerships, the East and Horn of Africa region paves the way for a brighter future, where labour migration becomes a force for equitable development and social progress.

Group picture of the participants