Greater Steps Taken towards Safe Labour Mobility in Southern Africa

South Africa - IOM, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) launched a set of guidelines last week (30/03) that encourages Southern African countries to strengthen intraregional labour migration cooperation.

The “Regional Guidelines for the Development of Bilateral Labour Agreements in the Southern Africa Development Community” and the “Regional Guide to Facilitate South-South Labour Mobility in Southern Africa” were endorsed and officially launched during a two-day regional conference in Pretoria on labour migration initiatives in Southern Africa. IOM, ILO, SADC members and a number of multilateral and bilateral partners with a stake in labour migration took part.

“These regional guides offer tools, strategic information and a direction for the creation of rights-based labour migration policy and programmes that strengthens the protection of the rights of migrant workers and mainstreams labour migration in national and regional development plans. When properly managed, labour migration has far-reaching potential for migrants, their communities, the countries of origin and destination, and for employers,” said Josiah Ogina, Regional Director of IOM’s Office for Southern Africa.

A growing young population coupled with increasing unemployment and a lack of formal employment translates into increasing mobility of skills and labour within, to and from Southern Africa. In 2013, the region recorded over four million migrants, excluding irregular migrants, of which 44 percent were female and 20 percent were under 19 years of age. Today, flows remain mainly informal and irregular, which has prevented countries from leveraging the full benefits of labour mobility. Skills development, unemployment or underemployment, extreme poverty, urbanization, environmental changes and instability are all important drivers of migration in the region.

National, bilateral and regional labour migration agreements play a crucial role in protecting migrant workers during the labour migration process.

“These guidelines will assist SADC Member States in developing national policy solutions and approaches toward the improved governance of labour migration within the Southern Africa region. Their implementation by Member States will bring us one step closer to achieving the free movement of capital and labour, goods and service envisaged in the 1992 Declaration and Treaty of the SADC,” says Malawian Labour Commissioner Hlalerwayo Kelvin Nyangulu.

Funding for the launch was provided for by the International Development Fund (IDF).

For further information please contact, Lerato Tsebe in IOM South Africa, Tel: +27 (0)72 127 7094, Email:; or Chiara Frisone in IOM’s Regional Office, Tel: +27 (0)79 520 4696, Email: