More than 100 laws in the six East African Community partner states’ national legislations should be reviewed to conform to the EAC Common Market Protocol.
The concerned laws relate to the provisions of the protocol, namely: free movement of goods; free movement of persons; free movement of labour; free movement of capital; free movement of services; right of establishment, and right of residence.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of productive and social sectors, Mr Christophe Bazivamo, said harmonisation of partner states’ relevant national laws to conform to the protocol was a monumental task that would require lots of time and resources.
Bazivamo said despite these challenges, the Community had made significant progress in terms of promoting the cross-border movement of skilled labour.
He cited the signing of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) among various professionals.
He disclosed that MRAs had already been signed among accountants, architects, engineers and veterinarians.
“Negotiations of MRAs for land surveyors and advocates were concluded and are awaiting signing by competent authorities. The negotiations of the MRA for Pharmacists have commenced,” Bazivamo added.
The DSG said the main barriers to the free movement of persons in Africa were the mind-sets based on the geographical boundaries drawn by the colonial powers and regulations put in place by countries concerning immigration, customs and other cross-border procedures.
“Sensitisation of people at all levels is therefore necessary on the need to knock down these national barriers,” he said.
Bazivamo was speaking during a courtesy call by a team from the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) which is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
The IGAD led by ICPALD Director, Dr Solomon Muchina Munyua, was on a recent benchmarking mission to the EAC headquarters specifically on the Free Movement of Persons.
The Mission also sought to understand the EAC policy position and practise on trans-boundary pastoralism and cross-border transhumance.
In his remarks, Dr Munyua disclosed that IGAD was currently working on protocols on Transhumance and the free movement of persons; thus, the need to benchmark with the EAC whose membership and nationalities overlap with those of IGAD.
“The people of Eastern Africa share languages and culture across borders, for instance, the Digo, Maasai, Kuria and Luhya. Integration brings with it fears of loss of jobs and resources. We are keen to learn from EAC on how it has managed to overcome these barriers,” Munyua said.