Kenya is in advanced negotiations with Saudi Arabia to sign a labour migration agreement that could enable the East African country to tap into a job market estimated at 350,000, President William Ruto said.

More than 100,000 Kenyans work in Saudi Arabia, sending millions of dollars home annually, according to government and central bank figures.

Remittances from Saudi Arabia climbed 30.28% to reach $246 million in the first eight months of 2023, compared to $188.8 million in the same period last year, according to the Central Bank of Kenya data.

Ruto said the two countries are planning to sign a bilateral labour agreement soon.

The president said he was in Saudi Arabia last week, and officials in the Gulf state said they have 350,000 jobs and noted that Kenyans are very dedicated workers.

“We have to get ready to get most of these jobs," Ruto said in a speech on Sunday.

"We shall soon sign a bilateral labour agreement with Saudi Arabia. I will return to there in three weeks time to sign this agreement. This is how we are growing to grow our nation," he said.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman met with Ruto last week at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Centre in Riyadh where he said Kenya is a pillar of stability and growth in Africa.

Prince Mohammed told Ruto that Saudi Arabia sees Kenya as a platform to broaden its forays into Africa. The Gulf state leader said his country was committed to pushing for more investments in Kenya.

Particular focus will be paid on the renewable energy sector in Kenya, Prince Mohammed said during their meeting after the two leaders had attended the opening session of the Future Investment Initiative.

(Editing by Brinda Darasha;