This section focuses on the second of the help desk queries: What is the status of labour mobility in East Africa, and how could it affect job creation? Definitions of key terms are provided below.
Long-term immigrant/long-term emigrant: A person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year (12 months), so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence. From the perspective of the country of departure the person will be a long-term emigrant and from that of the country of arrival the person will be a longterm immigrant66.
Short-term immigrant/short-term emigrant: A person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least 3 months but less than a year (12 months) except in cases where the movement to that country is for purposes of recreation, holiday, visits to friends and relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage. For purposes of international migration statistics, the country of usual residence of short-term migrants is considered to be the country of destination during the period they spend in it67. The focus of the query is on labour mobility. This is specifically looking at labour migration within the EAC.
Labour migration is defined as: The “movement of persons from one State to another, or within their own country of residence, for the purpose of employment. Labour migration is addressed by most States in their migration laws. In addition, some States take an active role in regulating outward labour migration and seeking opportunities for their nationals abroad”
EAC legislation on the free movement of labour Article 10 of the EAC (2009) Protocol on the Establishment of the EAC Common Market refers to the free movement of workers. The protocol sets out the non-discrimination of workers of the other Partner States, based on their nationalities, in relation to employment, remuneration and other conditions of work and employment. The free movement of workers shall entitle a worker to:
(a) Apply for employment and accept offers of employment actually made;
(b) Move freely within the territories of the Partner States for the purpose of employment;
(c) Conclude contracts and take up employment in accordance with the contracts, national laws and administrative actions, without any discrimination;
(d) Stay in the territory of a Partner State for the purpose of employment in accordance with the national laws and administrative procedures governing the employment of workers of that Partner State;
(e) Enjoy the freedom of association and collective bargaining for better working conditions in accordance with the national laws of the host Partner State; and
(f) Enjoy the rights and benefits of social security as accorded to the workers of the host Partner State.
Article 11 goes onto set out the harmonisation and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications and Article 12 is on the harmonisation of labour policies, laws and programmes. Annex II69 provides detail on the regulations regarding the free movement of workers in the EAC with the purpose of implementing the provisions of Article 10 of the Protocol and to ensure that there is uniformity among the Partner States in the implementation of the Article and that to the extent possible, the process is transparent, accountable, fair, predictable and consistent with the provisions of the Protocol.
Status of Labour Mobility in EAC International migrant stock as a percentage of the total population (both sexes) for all EAC Countries from 1990-2013. Migrant stock is significantly lower in Eastern Africa relative to the percentage of international migrant stock to the total population in the more developed regions of the world. Within the EAC Rwanda has the highest level of international migrant stock as a percentage of the total population, followed by Burundi and Kenya. However, there is no information provided on whether the migration was short or long term or, if it was for the purpose of employment.
The findings from the literature that did exist on the status of labour mobility in the EAC were complementary. The evidence highlights labour mobility is currently restricted due to a) inconsistencies in the implementation of the CMP and the lack of harmonisation of national labour laws. For example see Basnett (2013)72. And b) the reluctance of EAC member states to implement policies that result in an increased number of workers seeking employment opportunities which are in turn limited. In terms of information on current labour mobility, the IMF (2012)73 has stated that labour mobility is limited within the EAC and that once a monetary zone is established this will result in the impact of country-specific shocks being protracted and painful. The International Organisation for Migration (2013)74 finds that the EAC CMP requires workers originating from and moving within the partner States to be granted permits prior to being employed, and citizens of the EAC are extended little exclusive privileges for entry and stay. In addition, the definition of “workers” is limited to highly skilled professionals, while the provisions for mutual recognition of professional qualifications and experiences are not sufficiently outlined. The World Bank (2011)75 states that EAC regulatory activities are top down rather than market orientated and do not meet the needs of the common market. This is exacerbated by the lack of quality and transparency of the rules, their implementation, and to the capacities of the regional regulatory system to perform according to international standards of good regulatory practice.
An assessment of the implementation of the EAC CMP Commitments on the free movement of workers in EAC, on 17th May 201376 highlighted that some countries have taken an initiative towards the facilitation of labour mobility in the region (e.g. Rwanda and Kenya do not charge fees on work/residence permits for East African citizens; Rwanda introduced Machine Readable National IDs to be used as alternate to travel documents to ease the free movement of people; Kenya is in the process of changing its National Identity Cards to Machine Readable ones). The report also highlighted the challenges to free movement of labour including; differing employment laws and policies, diverse immigration laws at Partner State level; non-portability of social security and retirement benefits within EAC; non usage of machine readable common travel documents across the region as provided by the Protocol. This is relevant the Chief Executive Officers of major companies in the EAC highlighted the free movement of labour provisions (along with the removal of non-tariff barriers to trade, easing of work permit requirements) as an area that needed to be addressed, as a priority, in order to reduce the cost of doing business and increase FDI77.