Kenya: NGOs to recruit fewer expat workers

Hello everyone,

Since June, the Kenyan government has strengthened regulations relating to the recruitment of foreign professionals in the volunteering field. From now one, any NGO not complying with these regulations can lose its operating permit.

Thus, thousands of foreign nationals working in non-governmental organizations may lose their privileges, including 30 local leaves, health insurance and their children's education being taken care of by the organization. Some of them might even their jobs.
To date, more than 240,000 people,  including 12 000 foreign nationals, work with NGOs involved in the fields of human rights, conservation, maternal health, among others. According to these regulations, NGOs will have to recruit more Kenyans instead of foreign nationals who often do not have appropriate permits.

A circular issued by the Kenyan authorities provides for sanctions under existing laws against foreign nationals who do not have proper permit or whose work permit is no longer valid. NGOs must therefore make sure that their foreign staff complies with these provisions.

As regards recruitment, according to local media reports, the NGO council recommends that no foreigner should be hired unless it is proven that there is no competent Kenyan national in the labor market to fill the position offered. The Board also condemns the disparity in wages earned by foreign nationals and local staff, which particularly allows foreign nationals to from an NGO to another.

Find more information here:

So what do you think about that? Feel free to share your views.

Thank you in advance for your contribution.

Veedushi Team

From the government point of view, their goal is just to prevent unemployment that in turn leads to illegal activities and crimes. Though they claim to be on the right part, its not a good news for expats like us. Consider me, I'm searching a job in Nairobi since 3 years without any fruit. Where should we go? Well experienced professional sitting at home !

Thanks very much, for your information, this is worrisome, is on healthy news for some one like me, because of the plan i have, thanks

The conditions around a foreigner being issued with a work permit have, for some time, been that there is a skills gap that cannot be filled locally and that a Kenyan should be trained up to do that particular job. Unfortunately, corruption in Immigration means that it's quite easy to bypass these rules.  I think that the intention was that this training period would encompass the typical two year work permit period, at the end of which the expat work permit wouldn't be renewed.

I don't understand why this is 'worrisome' (previous post).  There seems to be a deep seated belief amongst some Kenyans that 'if its foreign, it must be better', which also extends to the workforce.  Personally, I see this a positive move, especially for charity based NGO's. Foreign workers are paid several times the salary that a 'local' would expect, plus benefits.  I imagine that many wouldn't relocate otherwise.  Kenya has a lot of highly trained graduates who are out of work and who would be more than capable of filling many of the roles currently occupied by expat workers.

I feel that some expat NGO workers are here simply for the 'African experience' and to boost their CV's ..... When I lived in Nairobi and shopped at Adams Arcade, there was invariably a row of new NGO Landcruisers parked up and the Java Coffee shop jam packed with expat workers (many from well known charities) who would be there for hours. This was the point at which I questioned whether charity funds were perhaps not being well spent.  This was reinforced recently, when I was at Great Rift Valley lodge and witnessed a large contingent from an NGO, nearly all expats, attending a conference at one of the top venues in the country.

The government decision to crack down on this, while probably unpopular with expats, may mean lower levels of unemployment and lower wage bills, allowing more NGO funds to be spent on their target groups. 

However, this isn't the first time that the government have attempted to crack down on corruption in the Immigration Department!!

Would Kenyans be very happy if all Western countries would tell them that they are not welcome unless they have unique skills and knowledge not available locally? Kenya claims to have embraced a free market economy and should accept the consequences. As far as I am concerned everybody should be welcome anywhere in the world (apart from people with bad intentions.

Leontomesen;  Western countries already do this!  Look at how easy it is for a Kenyan to simply visit the UK.......extremely difficult simply to get a visitors visa. Working there legally is out of the question these days, even 'via the back door route' (I cite the UK as my example, as this is where Iam from).

What western country allows people to enter, using a visa on arrival for example, but Kenya does.

Embracing a free market economy doesn't mean that a country shouldn't act to protect their citizens. In terms of employment, this is all the Kenyan government is seeking to do. If a Kenyan has the skills to do a certain job, why use imported labour, leaving the Kenyan unemployed? Expats expect a higher salary too, which means that in terms of charity based NGO's, less money for the NGO's target group

I couldn't agree more with longonot62... All the Kenyan goverment is trying to do is provide employment opportunities to equally skilled and educated locals as opposed to importing foreighn labour

Yah sadly many foreign governments already do that, often to the point of ridiculous.
In the UK a skilled worker who is not from the UK or (for now) from the EU has to earn a salary well above the national average or the industry standard in order to get a VISA.

Although its awkward for those wanting to emigrate, its the right approach.  Governments are doing their job properly if they are protecting the citizens of their respective countries.

As for the UK, the country does not want immigrants who are likely to become a burden to the state, hence the rules.  As it is a costly country in which to live..............

Even Kenya screens out lower paid foreign workers (corruption aside) and if you want to retire here, you have to (technically) evidence an income stream of at least $24,000 per annum.

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