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Kenya mining laws cited for East Africa labour restrictions

TITANIUM MINING IN KWALE. FILE PHOTO | LABAN WALLONGA | NMG 
TITANIUM MINING IN KWALE. FILE PHOTO | LABAN WALLONGA | NMG  

Laws governing Kenya’s mining and engineering sectors have been cited as hampering the free movement of labour within the East African Community.

An August report from the community’s sectoral council of ministers concerned with EAC affairs notes that members of the economic bloc have over the last two years introduced at least six new laws that make it difficult for  people to move and work freely in the region.

Kenya forbids non-citizens or companies that are not majority owned by citizens from getting mining permits. The country also restricts the registration of engineering technology firms to entities that are majority owned by Kenyans.

On the other hand, Tanzania has similar restrictions for companies that want to own companies within the media sector while Uganda restricts foreign participation in its petroleum industry.

“Partner states are enacting new laws without due regard to their EAC Common Market Protocol obligations,” says the report.

Under the Common Market Protocol,  people from other EAC countries are entitled to the same privileges and rights as the citizens of each member state. The report from the ministers also provides fresh data on the movement of people within the region showing that Rwanda is far outpacing Kenya as a choice destination for students and business people from the East African Community.

Official statistics show that the land-locked country issued the highest number of student passes; work permits and business registration for persons from the region. Rwanda issued 1,464 work permits to EAC citizens during the period, significantly higher than Tanzania at 1,297 and more than double the 508 work permits granted by Kenya. 

Rwanda also recorded 102 business registrations from EAC member states, in comparison to the 91 recorded by Tanzania and the 57 reported in Kenya. And 1,019 EAC students were also granted gratis passes, a residence permit for learners, in Rwanda in comparison to the 241 granted by Kenya.