Kuwait is in preliminary negotiations with three new African countries Sierra Leone, Benin, and Nigeria to recruit domestic workers. This initiative aims to address the current labor shortage and meet the needs of Kuwaiti families. It also seeks to compensate for the suspension of work permit issuance for Filipino workers. Government sources emphasize the importance of sourcing labor from these new countries rather than those with a significant existing labor presence in Kuwait.
This decision follows the interior ministry’s earlier announcement, which came after the ban on first-time domestic labor from the Philippines. First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and acting Minister of Defense Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah has underscored Kuwait’s commitment to securing the necessary labor skills and expertise through contracts with other nations while prioritizing Kuwait’s sovereignty and the welfare of its people. Sources indicate that Kuwait has embraced the idea of hiring African labor and is on the verge of finalizing agreements with Sierra Leone, Benin and Nigeria.
These countries have shown readiness to engage with Kuwait and ensure the rights of workers and their sponsors are protected. Memoranda of understanding between Kuwait and these nations have paved the way for the upcoming agreements. Once the necessary studies are completed, delegations from each of these countries will arrive in Kuwait to sign final agreements with the ministry of foreign affairs and the Public Authority of Manpower. It is anticipated that domestic workers from these African countries will begin to be recruited in the first quarter of the upcoming year if all goes according to plan.
This shift towards African domestic labor is occurring at the expense of Asian domestic workers, who have traditionally made up the majority of the workforce in this sector. In a related development, Kuwait is approaching the signing of a final agreement with Ethiopia, as Ethiopia has shown agreement with most of the terms in the agreement. It is expected that the agreement will be signed with all its provisions in the near future.
In a 2019 article, columnist Muna Al-Fuzai discussed the demographic issue, suggesting Kuwait should reconsider and amend its approach to demographics by allowing Palestinians back into the country, particularly young professionals such as doctors and engineers. The column also proposed facilitating the entry of Sudanese, Yemenis and individuals from other countries to diversify the labor force, particularly in the medical and industrial sectors.
This diversification of labor, the Fuzai argued, would contribute to various fields and address the demographic imbalance. This strategic shift in recruiting domestic workers from new countries could potentially lead to a broader strategy that benefits all sectors of the labor force by bringing in talent from different nations and promoting diversity.