Editor's Comment

Seize the Gulf opportunity

LUSAKA Zambia.

THE request for Zambians to work as maids and drivers by some countries in the Gulf may sound odd but it is a perfect opportunity for our citizens to gain employment abroad and enhance the country’s earnings from remittances.
Citizens should therefore take advantage of this offer to go and work abroad because of the benefits that would accrue to them as individuals, their families and the country.
At individual level, benefits include earning a decent salary which enables them to live good and decent lives and support their families back home.
There are hundreds of other nationals working in Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Swaziland, just as there are a lot of foreigners living and doing business in Zambia.
There are also hundreds of East Africans, West Africans and Asians working in the Gulf.
This is probably what has attracted employers in the Gulf to try out Zambians because they have read a lot about this country and its people.
Zambians are known to be very friendly and hard-working. Zambians can also be trusted.
Given this attribute, it is important for the country to take up the offer announced by Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe during the Patriotic Front interactive forum in Lusaka yesterday.
The demand for Zambians to work as maids and drivers, including as security guards, comes barely a month after President Edgar Lungu received a similar request from Madagascar.
Madagascar is in need of Zambian teachers to go and teach English on the Indian Ocean island.
It is expected that by now, the Ministry of Education has already started working with Cabinet Office to implement the request from Madagascar.
The demand for teachers from Madagascar is a blessing because it will help increase employment opportunities for our teachers, just as the youths will take advantage of the offer for jobs in the Gulf to mitigate unemployment.
Madagascar-bound teachers and those who will take up employment opportunities in the Gulf will increase remittances to the country.
Remittances are important for a developing country like Zambia because they enhance foreign exchange earnings, help create a sustainable economy and stabilise the Kwacha.
According to the World Bank, India was the largest remittance receiving country, with an estimated US$72 billion in 2015, followed by China (US$64 billion), and the Philippines (US$30 billion).
This is more than three times the size of development aid. International migrants’ remittances provide a lifeline for millions of households in developing countries.
The World Bank cites the top 10 migrant destination countries as the United States, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Spain and Australia.
The top 10 migrant source countries were India, Mexico, Russia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
Zambia, too, should join the ranks of migrant source countries.
With Zambia’s population increasing, school-leavers, college and university graduates can no longer continue looking to Government for employment.
They should also start looking at getting jobs outside the country, provided they have the requisite skills needed by employers across the borders and abroad.
We have Zambians in Sesheke, Senanga and Sioma working as maids in Namibia. There is need to formalise such initiatives so that citizens can start earning the right wages.
With employment opportunities opening up, Government should work with the International Labour Organisation and employment agencies to prepare Zambians who intend to work abroad.
This is necessary because some citizens may not fully understand the significance of working as an expatriate abroad.
They have to understand the culture and labour laws in the countries, where they intend to work, including language, as well as appreciating the religion of the work stations they will be operating from.
Islam is the dominant culture in the Gulf and our people should be aware about the dos and don’ts well in advance.
Those intending to take up these offers should also guard against crooks who could take advantage of this turn of events to lure young women into unsavoury jobs such as prostitution.
It is known that some women have ended as sex slaves after being lured by the promise of well-paying jobs. This should be avoided.
For those that do get into the genuine jobs, this could also be an opportunity to raise revenue that they so-much need to start businesses at home.
Let this be a tangible objective and not a mere plan for the shelves.

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