President Uhuru Kenyatta delivers his remarks during the opening of the Kenya-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States business forum in Dubai/ PSCU
NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 17- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is looking to tap into the Kenyan market for skilled labourers, offering a 10-year visa to support the development of the region’s economy.
The long-term residence visa targets individuals in science and knowledge, such as doctors, lawyers and inventors, nurses and healthcare officials as well as creatives in the fields of culture and art or those in real estate.
The 10-year visa developed in late 2021 also targets professionals from other regions, a move that may result in a fresh round of brain drain.
Currently, the country issues a work visa for two years which is renewable and mostly paid for by the employer.
According to data by Globaleconomy.com, the average value of brain drain for Kenya between 2009 and 2021 was 7.61 index points with a minimum of 6.6 index points in 2021 and a maximum of 8.3 index points in 2009. Despite a reduction in the global index, Kenya’s current brain drain rate is higher than the world average based on 173 countries at 5.25 index points.
“The Human flight and brain drain indicator considers the economic impact of human displacement (for economic or political reasons) and the consequences this may have on a country’s development. The higher the index, the greater the human displacement,” the report stated.
The visas will allow foreigners, their family members and two of their business partners to settle in UAE and enjoy the benefits of a permanent resident.
The plan by UAE to tap into the East African country’s top brains comes as Kenya continues to export workforce into the country especially in health care, hospitality and tourism.
Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said that Kenyans who will benefit from this deal must satisfy immigration conditions and undertake medical tests in UAE.
“They are willing to facilitate visas for business people. They have a framework for a golden visa which is a 10-year multiple entry visa and several Kenyans have benefited from these arrangements and more could benefit,” Maina said on the sidelines of a High-Level Business Forum in UAE held by Kenya.
In July, UAE announced that Kenyan small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) setting up in Dubai will get a two-year rent-free workspace as part of a new support programme ahead of the Expo 2020 Dubai.
Data by the Central Bank of Kenya shows that UAE is the third-largest source of diaspora remittances into the country after the US and UK.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has also revived the discussion on the possibility of A free trade agreement (FTA) between the countries to deal away with bottlenecks around logistics and tariffs.
“We are keen on the establishment of an arrangement to simply trade between UAE and Kenya and Gulf countries,” President Uhuru said during the forum. “I guess the simple way is an FTA and I hope it is something the countries will agree on.”
Uhuru also called for increased business partnerships in the financial service and healthcare sector.