The six East African countries are considering changes to immigration rules almost eight years after a deal that recognises training certificates issued by the member States failed to boost cross-border movement of professionals.
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan are seeking a number of regulations to allow professionals to easily cross borders for temporary contracts.
Officials at the EAC Secretariat in Arusha said that despite the liberalisation of a number of sectors, the Common Market Protocol, which provides a framework for cross-border exchange of labour and services, had failed to facilitate movement of trained workers.
“We are working on a regulation to recognise temporary movement of labour so as to have a framework for professionals who just want to relocate for just a few days to complete their projects,” said Dr James Jowi, the EAC Principal Education officer.
“We are also thinking of a regulation to govern joint contracts between local professionals and citizens of other EAC states.”
The bloc had given itself up to December 2015 to open up job markets for regional citizens.
The concerns come just days after Tanzania caused an uproar by denying Kenyan Sylvia Mulinge, a Safaricom #ticker:SCOM employee, a work permit to take up the job of head of Vodacom’s operations.
During a media tour organised by the EAC and GIZ, professionals asked member States to scrap work permit fees, recognise temporary contracts and stop forcing their firms to partner with locals. They also called for the contracting member states to recognise their firms and allow them to cross borders with technicians.
“The common market protocol only assigns rights to professionals as natural persons yet we work as consulting firms,” said Mr Michael Daka, managing director of Kigali-headquartered Proess Consulting Engineers, who has worked in both Uganda and Tanzania.