Kenyans will have to wait longer for easier immigration rules in Tanzania after a meeting between officials from the two countries resolved to tackle the problem by next March.
The meeting under the Joint Commission for Co-operation (JCC) had been expected to resolve the persistent reluctance by Tanzania to scrap residence and work permit fees as is expected by the East African Community.
But Tanzania argued it needed more time to realign the demands within the provisions of the new laws, which require foreign nationals to pay fees for work permits.
On Friday, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs secretary Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart, Augustine Mahiga, endorsed the decision to extend discussions until March, saying it will allow time to iron out the issues.
“Arising from this, the meeting advised the relevant authorities from the two sides to meet by March, 2017 with a view to address the issues,” said a dispatch from the meeting.
The JCC between Tanzania and Kenya had been dormant for six years, stalling discussions on immigration and other issues affecting relations. When President John Magufuli visited Nairobi in November, he authorised his team to restart the talks.
The turn of events is likely to disappoint Kenyan businessmen who had hoped that the State would finally agree to scrap the work permit fees.
Mr Magufuli argued during his November tour that Kenya was the number one investor in his country, with 529 companies investing about Sh170 billion in various sectors, and employing more than 56,000 Tanzanians.
Kenya sold goods and services worth Sh33 billion to Tanzania and bought half of that from Dar es Salaam in 2015, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
However, there has been the small matter of immigration rules.
In 2010, the East African Community, to which Kenya and Tanzania belong, passed the Common Market protocol to ensure for free movement of labour among member states. The other members are Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan (which is yet to ratify its entry).