The Women’s Ministry’s report on migrant workers covers the 11 months up to December 2022 and includes specifics. An average monthly income of 7,724 gave an annual total of 84,966, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar hosting the most migrant workers from Uganda.
At least 77,914 of the 84,966 migrant workers, of whom 55,643 were primarily domestic workers, left for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Uganda have a bilateral trade agreement, which may be the reason why Saudi Arabia accepts more migrant workers than other countries.
Mr. Milton Turyasima, Assistant Commissioner for Employment Services, Ministry of Gender, said the bilateral agreement with Jordan was suspended due to difficulties in monitoring due to the long distance between the supervising embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Over the weekend, he spoke to Monitor, a news agency focused on events in Uganda. He noted that Uganda’s bilateral agreement with the United Arab Emirates is not working.
He disclosed that Uganda earns $600m (Shs2.2 trillion) annually from migrant workers to the Middle East, of which Saudi Arabia records the largest income. During the period under review, Qatar received 3,549 migrant workers from Uganda and the United Arab Emirates received 1,949. Iraq and Somalia, which received 804 and 648 workers respectively, rounded out the top five spots for Ugandan migrant workers.
In the 11 months to December, there were 4,870 cleaners and 1,476 security guards from Uganda in the Middle East. 499 and 172 Ugandans respectively went to the Middle East during that time to work as servers, waiters and drivers.
Over the past ten years, Uganda has seen a sharp increase in the number of migrant workers, especially to the Middle East. Yet, most work in informal jobs for an average salary of Shs1m. High unemployment and severe lack of access to finance for business are the main reasons for the increase.
A majority of people working in the Middle East, a part of Uganda, have criticized the government for failing to implement government-to-government regulations that protect the rights of Ugandan migrant workers.