IOM Hosts Kenyan and Ethiopian Officials’ Exchange on Labour Migration Governance

Nairobi – A Delegation from the Federal Republic of Ethiopia this week met representatives from the Government of the Republic of Kenya to exchange best practices in managing how migrant workers can access decent work and how to protect the rights of these workers.

The discussions shared experiences in Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs) and consular cooperation, licensing and regulation of private recruitment firms, ethical hiring practices, international migration law, and migrant workers' rights. 

The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM/UN Migration) East and Horn of Africa Regional Office provided technical assistance and hosted the discussions, working in tandem with IOM offices in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa and a significant source of migrants in the East and Horn of Africa region, which has resulted in the Government of Ethiopia putting in place legislative and institutional measures to address irregular migration from the country and to protect migrant workers and their families. 

In the meeting it was revealed that Ethiopia revised its 2016 Overseas Employment Proclamation in 2021 to encourage regular labour migration through Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements (BLMAs/BLAs) and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). The country currently has BLMAs/BLAs with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Qatar, and MOUs with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Talks are ongoing to sign BLMAs/BLAs with Kuwait, Bahrain, and Lebanon. 

Ethiopia is also one of the African Union (AU) Member States implementing the AU-ILO-IOM-ECA Joint Programme on Labour Migration Governance for Development and Integration in Africa (JLMP), a collaborative effort to improve governance of labour migration to achieve safer, orderly, and regular migration in Africa.
“Well-governed safe, orderly and humane labour migration has the potential to support the development for countries of origin, transit, and destination in a sustainable manner while also increasing benefits and opportunities for migrant workers and their families," said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa during the meeting.

Mr. Nebiyou Solomon, Minister Counselor II from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia, stated that “A national system has been set up for the concerned agencies to mainstream the GCM in their respective planning processes, as well as follow up and report on their implementation to the government. Hence, development of a comprehensive National Migration Policy, Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) and passing of national proclamations has led to key structural changes in the country’s migration governance architecture.”
As part of the benchmarking meeting, Kenya’s labour migration governance system was hailed as one of the most gender-sensitive in the East and Horn of Africa region. The country has also developed significant expertise in approving the licensing of Private Recruitment Agencies (PRAs) and is currently finalizing a new labour migration law and policy.

Madam Winnie Karangithi, Director for the State Department of Labour and Skills Development for Kenya and host of the benchmarking meeting, reiterated that “Given the milestones that Kenya has achieved, we still see the added value of a regional approach to maximize our bargaining power as well as the RMFM objectives aimed at harmonizing labour migration governance across the region. One of the major lessons the country has learnt, is that labour migration management requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders involved both at the national and regional level, hence the reason for the benchmarking.”

The meeting was held as part of the Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM), which brings together the East African Community (EAC) and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). The RMFM, which is currently chaired by Ethiopia’s Minister for Labour and Skills, Muferihat Kamil Ahmed, advises member governments to work together for more effective regional interventions and helps them develop, negotiate and sign BLMAs in accordance with international frameworks.  

The meeting was supported by the JLMP, which is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). 

For more information, please contact Regional Program Communication Officer Janet Adongo on or +254722750152

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals