Less than a decade after the East African Community Common Market Protocol was adopted in 2010, challenges have begun to surface in earnest. One of the challenges has much to do with free movement – or the lack of it – of professionals and other specialised workers from one EAC country to another to take up consultancy, research and other skilled/contractual tasks as a matter of course.
Establishing the Common Market marked a major milestone in seeking to accelerate socio-economic development for the EAC countries. To that end, the Protocol liberally provided for free movement of goods, persons, workers/labour, services and capital. In that regard, the EAC countries gave themselves up to December 2015 by when they would have opened up their jobs markets for citizens within the regional bloc.
That never happened. Indeed, there are known cases whereby some EAC governments have denied immigration and/or working permits to citizens of fellow member nations, contrary to the spirit of the Protocol and regional cooperation.
Also, there are persistent complaints by some of the EAC member-countries, development partners and other stakeholders-in-development regarding discriminatory and otherwise restrictive regulatory frameworks against non-nationals seeking to enter and operate in the countries. In the event, the EAC nations are now considering changes to their immigration and related statutory frameworks in efforts to iron out the ugly kinks that continue to hamper the noble objective of attaining a fully-fledged, functional regional integration every which way soonest.
Not only do we wish the relevant authorities Godspeed in revisiting the related EAC Protocols in this. We also unreservedly hope that their endeavours will bear the results that the nearly 200 million East Africans heartily look forward to in the envisaged East African Federation.