Improving Management of Labour Migration in Africa, Despite Covid-19

Addis Ababa - Workforce migration remains a key feature of movements in Africa, characterized by intra-regional relocations to key commercial hubs for employment and other economic opportunities, with 8.3 million migrant workers on the continent in 2014 according to estimates.


However, recent shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health measures have left thousands of migrant workers in African countries, and beyond, hard-hit and struggling to make ends meet.   


Deprived of work as access to jobs shrinks rapidly, many do not enjoy any social protection and relief measures that some governments are extending to their populations.  


To address such challenges, partners of the Joint Labour Migration Programme for Africa (JLMP) are strengthening the framework to manage labour migration on the continent.  


Launched in 2015, the JLMP is working with AU Member States, the continent’s regional economic communities (RECs), social partner organisations, migrants and diaspora associations to manage labour mobility.   


The programme is currently assisting countries such as Lesotho and Togo, and RECs like the East African Community (EAC), to develop responsive policies, whilst building the capacity of stakeholders to effectively regulate labour migration.


Additionally, with hundreds of thousands of African migrants working in the Middle East and Organization of Islamic States (OIC), a model Bilateral Labour Migration Agreement (BLA) has recently been developed to support African countries negotiate frameworks that protect their citizens living as migrant workers in other countries.  


A second edition of the Labour Migration Statistics in Africa report will be released later in 2020, following improving the capacity of member states over the past three years to collect and analyse reference data on labour mobility.


The programme is also helping governments and RECs to develop tools such as the African Continental Qualification Framework (ACQG), which aims to recognise skills across borders, with the leather sector in Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal as a leading example of the initiative. 


“Despite the challenges we face due to COVID-19, the JLMP provides an opportunity to keep improving the lives of migrant workers across Africa during and beyond this crisis,” says Ms. Maureen Achieng, the IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the AU, ECA and IGAD. 


Mrs. Ulla Andren, the Head of Development Cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa at the Swedish Embassy (SIDA) in Addis Ababa says COVID-19 has made the JLMP more important than ever. Together with partners, Sida is addressing challenges in the labour sector caused by the pandemic, including discrimination and xenophobia.

With the support of IOM, in 2019 the AU’s Labour Migration Advisory Committee (LMAC) held consultations with six of Africa’s eight RECs to help foster cooperation, build capacities as well as to support platforms for social partners to engage.


These consultations encouraged member states to put in place unemployment insurance plans and to extend social security to workers in the informal economy and rural sectors in order to mitigate the kind of shocks we are seeing with the corona virus pandemic. 


Mrs. Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union Commission, commended JLMP for working with African governments to improve the labour migration landscape across the continent and described it as key to the implementation of the AU’s Agenda 2063, the UN SDG’s for 2030, and the Migration Policy Framework for Africa.  


Available here are the JLMP and JLMP Priority Project Infosheets.  


For more information, contact Eric Mazango at IOM Ethiopia, Email:  




IOM joins other JLMP partners during a virtual meeting