Somalia rising as source of remittances for Kenya and Uganda

According to data at the diplomatic missions in Mogadishu, there are more than 35,000 Ugandans in Somalia, remitting between $50,000 and $60,000 per day, compared with Kenyans, whose remittances average $500,000 million per day.

“We just need to wake our people to add value to the skills that we want to market here in order to get more from this economy,” Nathan Mugisha, Uganda’s Deputy Head of Mission in Somalia told The EastAfrican in Mogadishu. “We have a lot of opportunities here in agriculture, human skilled labour, especially in the construction sector and mining. We just need to get more organised. This mission contributes $50,000–$60,000 per day in remittances, but that’s nothing compared with what Kenyans send home.”

The diplomat said Kenyans offer highly skilled services but he did not elaborate, but sources indicate that a majority are in corporate, humanitarian, services and hotel and hospitality management roles. Diplomats have recently stated that there are more than 30,000 Kenyans currently employed in Somalia, and this number is expected to grow fivefold in the next five years as a result of the Horn of Africa nation joining the East African Community, guaranteeing free movement of persons within the bloc.

Somalia is not captured in the latest Central Bank of Kenya report on remittances for the year ended March 2024, which lists Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, South Sudan, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Malawi as the top sources of money transfers by diaspora Kenyans to their country.

Robert Mugimba, Uganda’s Counsellor at the Embassy, says with 35,000 workers in Somalia, the country now ranks second to Saudi Arabia in terms of labour exports, and that the numbers have jumped in nearly two years after a joint permanent commission between Uganda and Somalia in August 2022.

“In that joint permanent commission we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation in trade, diplomacy and negotiations, and recently a follow-up agreement for bilateral labour agreement was signed to facilitate Ugandans who are getting employed here,” he explained.

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