Labor Export as Government Policy: An Assessment of Uganda’s Potential for Export of Labor in the Framework of Regional and Multilateral Agreements

"Export of labor through temporary migration is increasingly recognized worldwide as a pro-poor export strategy with significant development impacts especially in the poorest countries of the world. Because of the tremendous economic benefits from exports of labor, some developing countries across the world, with excess labor, high levels of unemployment and under employment have positioned themselves to maximize benefits from labor exports. These countries have enacted policies to encourage temporary migration, institutionalized labor export mechanisms, established regulatory frameworks and undertaken bilateral and regional initiatives to enhance labor exports. However, the situation in Africa seems to have remained mixed. Whereas many countries on the continent have aggressively promoted labor exports and received sizeable amounts of remittance inflows, many others seem to lack a deliberate effort to promote labor export. Although many countries on the continent, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa are characterized by excess labor and significant levels of under employment and unemployment, few or no initiatives have been undertaken to systematically promote labor export and benefit from the remittance flows. This study on Uganda sought to examine the extent to which the export of labor could be used as a tool to mitigate the level of unemployment and under employment through a deliberate export strategy. Relying on both primary and secondary data, the study adopted a descriptive research design combined with analytical modeling to estimate the level of unemployment and to determine labor export potential. The study established that Uganda suffers high levels of unemployment and underemployment projected to increase significantly by 2020. It was further established that projected unemployment is driven by not only high rates of graduate unemployment, but also high levels of "labor casualization‟ as well as high rates of labor migration from the informal sector."