As Kenya takes the leadership of the Africa Regional Labor Administration Centre (ARLAC) it has promised to revive employment within the 19 member state countries through the adoption of a digital economy.
Speaking during the official opening of the 17th, annual meeting of ARLAC senior officials at Sarova White sands hotel in Mombasa, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of labor Simon Chelugui regretted that 47 years since the formation of ARLAC, there were challenges of unemployment, low payment of workers and breach of rights of laborers and challenged members to address these challenges.
“Digital economy is here with us and we need to embrace it. We need to ensure our workers have legitimate expectations of working across our borders beyond Kenya. As we congratulate our Principal Secretary for taking over leadership of ARLAC, we need to push our agenda; the emerging issues in Africa led by Kenya. We want to have rotational leadership of ARLAC. For the first time Kenya is taking over that chairmanship of the senior professionals,” said Chelugui.
Chelugui asked member states to work as a team with the social partners to address pertinent issues of labour adding that through the spirit of team work in Kenya some jobs lost due to covid-19 were recovered.
“This is the same spirit we want to bring to the member states of ARLAC, effective labour systems. We need to discuss and agree on how we can safeguard the welfare of the workers working in the Middle East countries, check on their rights, payment and their health status,” he added.
The CS said that ARLAC also needs to check on the growth of business within Africa and the people to be able to move and transact freely within the 19 member states.
“We have like 512 million people looking for jobs in Africa and before we look for jobs in the Middle East countries, we want to first exhaust these opportunities in the member states nations,” he said.
Chelugui added that after the meeting, the council of ministers of labour across Africa will present the recommendations made to the respective governments and ensure there is equality among employees within Africa and work out policies that will make it easy for Africans to work here in Africa as opposed to migrating to the Middle East.
The CS noted that in the forum they will discuss the welfare of workers across Africa as a common agenda among the 19 member states countries, issues of labour migration across the world, digitalization of labour and how to improve trade.
“We need to form policies because work can only be generated by investing in job creating sectors such as transport, education, blue economy, extractive economy like mining and forestry, and when we encourage our member states to invest in these sectors’ value addition, we create jobs,” said Chelugui.
Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli said that Africa has huge potential urging ARLAC member states to invest in the education of their workforce.
Atwoli added that the issue of labourers’ mistreatment should also be addressed as one problem facing African workers.
“Let’s be creative and take advantage of the resources and create more jobs. We can stabilize our micro economy, support the education sector and embrace the digital economy,” said Atwoli.