Uganda is looking to send up to a million well-educated young citizens to take up domestic jobs such as housemaids, nannies, and security guards in Saudi Arabia.
Like several other African countries, Uganda is struggling to cope with a huge youth unemployment problem.
“It is true Uganda government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to enable Ugandan domestic workers to seek employment in Saudi Arabia,” Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary at the ministry of labour told Uganda’s Daily Monitor. “It is not only housemaids but other domestic workers such as like private drivers, shop keepers and security guards.”
This is not the first agreement to recruit domestic workers that Saudi Arabia has with developing countries. The minister of labor Dr. Mufrej Al-Haqbani said that this is the ninth such pact it has signed with Asian and African countries. The cost of such recruitment will be around $1,900 per worker with a monthly salary around $200, a Saudi news agency reports.
The educated Ugandan population is of particular attraction to the Saudis, especially due to the fact that they are English-speaking.
“The recruitment agreement with Uganda will be an added value to the kingdom because the highly-educated Ugandan housemaids may be used to teach English or work as nannies besides their house chores,” the agreement says as quoted by the Daily Monitor.
The Ugandan official was excited by the possibility of the workers sending much-earned remittances back to the east African nation. “This is a great opportunity for our unemployed youth to grab. They will be able to repatriate their income back home for development,” Bigirimana said.
Over a third of the country’s population is between 10-24 years old. Some estimates say that 78% of its people are under 30 and 56% under 18 (pdf).
Despite reasonably strong economic growth, this demographic reality has created an unemployment challenge for the east African nation. While the general unemployment rate is at 5.2%, for young people the figure is at an estimated 62%, according to an ActionAid report. The African Development Bank says the situation is even more dire saying the number is 83%, reports The Guardian.