Regional Integration And Professional Labour Mobility :a Case Of East African Community (EAC)
Onduko, Esther B
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The main aims and objectives of East African Community are largely geared towards widening and deepening co-operation among the Partner States in, among others, political, economic and social fields for their mutual benefit. To achieve the objectives, the EAC countries established a Customs Union in 2005 and a Common Market in 2010 which introduced the free movement of workers therefore enabling citizens of EAC to work anywhere within the member countries without discrimination. The free movement of workers was to be implemented gradually for a period of 5 years and become fully operational by 2015. The objective of the study was to carry out a review of the available data on regional integration and access progress made on professional labour mobility in the five member countries, to improve our understanding on the fundamental factors underlying professional labour mobility within the EAC member countries, to recommend policy initiatives for mobility of professional labour in regard to regional integration and to improve our understanding on challenges of implementing CMP protocol on mobility of skilled workers within the EAC member countries. The study adopted a descriptive survey as it was deemed that the best strategy to fulfill the objectives of this study was a technique for making inferences by objectively and systematically identifying specified characteristics of responses and objectively identifying and using the same approach to relate trends. The study used both primary and secondary sources. The primary data was obtained through interview with experts in the areas of Regional Integration and Professional mobility, and officials from the EAC secretariat in Arusha Tanzania. Professionals from the EAC member countries were also interviewed. Secondary data was obtained from analysis and review of books, papers, journals and other available literature on the issue Regional Integration. Purposive sampling was used to come up with a sample of 50 respondents. From the findings, the study concluded that free movement of workers is not free for all workers. Articles 76 and 104 of the treaty guarantees the free movement of workers without any exception, but in the CMP, the free movement of workers is a privilege of only the highly skilled and professional workers yet the majority of workers in East Africa are semi or unskilled. The study recommends that those countries that have not reviewed their labour and Immigration laws to conform with the protocol should do so and not just on paper but should domesticate and implement them, apart from the bilateral agreements between Rwanda and Kenya, they should abolish all work permits fees for citizen of EAC, Issuance of machine-readable IDs by Partner States to facilitate identification of a citizen of a Partner State should be expedited Rwanda has implemented, Kenya is in the process, Recognition of qualifications for professionals across the region is very important but all have not harmonized their recognition. Political will was found to be lacking because some countries do not have budgetary allocation towards the integration. Finally, frameworks should be development for data compilation on movement of people within the region.