Varma (2009)78 finds that whilst members of the EAC have free entry in member states, increasing labour mobility is underpinned by a gradual approach in the light of the limited employment opportunities to local workers and security concerns. Lameck (2013)79 finds that endemic unemployment across the regional partner states has created fear in the actualization of free movement of workers. Both of these papers highlight that labour mobility is being curtailed due to a lack of jobs in the EAC. This is mirrored by the findings of Akinboade (2014)80 who reviews the current situation of protocols, decisions and polices on temporary labour immigration within Africa’s RECs and identifies implementation challenges. The paper finds that high unemployment and low economic growth at the national level ties into reluctance, at the policy level, to implement policies that increase the flow of unskilled labour from neighbouring countries. At the same time, CUTS Geneva Resource Centre (2010)81, highlight that those areas in the region that have booming economies attract migration flows. The paper goes on to list Kenya as an important pole of attraction for migration flows before going on to highlight the gradual shift of migration flows towards Tanzania which has become the destination of incoming FDI alongside a local workforce that lacks the skills required to take advantages of these opportunities. Studies on the impact of labour flows on job creation at the sector and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) level within the EAC are limited. Masheti Masinjila (2009)82 found that regional trade policy initiatives in the EAC were not having any significant impact on cross border informal trade by women in the area of the study. The women interviewed expressed scepticism at the ability of regional trade policy initiatives to assist them, giving fear of taxation as a primary concern.
There is limited data on labour migration within the EAC and how migration is impacting on job creation. The literature focuses on the restrictions to labour mobility in the EAC but there is no corresponding quantitative data that examines the linkages between migration (both short and long term) or labour migration and job creation in the EAC. This inhibits the ability of this helpdesk query response to provide a full answer to the query “What is the status of labour mobility in East Africa, and how could it affect job creation?”
Within the literature that does exist there are gaps. Much of the work on the EAC was written prior to 2010. This limits the assessment of the implementation of policies supporting labour mobility within the EAC after 2010 and the resulting impact on labour flows. The query response did not find a distinction between job creation in the formal and informal sector as a result of international labour migration. In addition there were gaps in the evidence base regarding movement from rural to urban areas and amongst sectors. Evidence on the type of workers who were able to move between EAC member states were also scarce as were studies on the disaggregated effects on males and females.
Documentation on the employment effects of labour flows in the EAC is limited to references to the limited employment opportunities in the region and the fear from some member states that labour flows will result in increased pressure on a scare number of jobs.
Actions to support job creation from a regional perspective The following actions, policies or activities were outlined during the course of KIIs as supporting job creation from a regional perspective. It should be noted that some of these actions, policies or activities are already the focus of donor, government and other agencies focus e.g. investment in the transit sector. These are supported by the findings from the data and documentation reviewed for help desk queries one and two:
Greater coordination between East African governments and implementation of existing legislation and policy: A greater commitment to the principles of the EAC through coordination of trading standards, regulations and policies on freedom of movement for good and labour. This could be supported through donor lobbying and technical assistance. There are a number of initiatives and policies that have been committed to by the EAC member states but implementation can be sluggish. The necessity of political support from EAC country governments was highlighted.
Enhanced coordination and synergy of donor programmes: Whilst regional programmes do exist there are gaps in the linkage of bilateral programmes with other country programmes operated by donors within the EAC.
Investment in the transit sector: Increased and improved ports and corridors would increase exports and reduce cost of imports. At present limitations to the movement of goods stifles employment in countries such as Rwanda and Uganda.
Developing human capital: Through education and vocational training systems that are recognised in all EAC countries. This would improve harmonisation of the labour market and to increase labour market efficiencies.
Development of light industry and processing: The creation of competitive industries in order to create jobs in sectors other than agriculture. USAID for example has a focus on the cotton and textile sector in East Africa.
Reducing corruption in the private and public sector: This would enhance private sector activity and entrepreneurship supporting economic diversification and structural transformation. Léonce Ndikumana (2013) 105 highlights the need for African countries to leverage the existing initiatives at regional and international level aimed at tackling the problem of corruption.
Enhancing the enabling environment for market development: This would support a shift away from the informal sector through the creation of an integrated formal economy. At the same time, polices for market-based development would be improved creating opportunities for investment and employment. This necessitates political support for the private sector which could be supported through technical assistance and awareness raising on the role of the private sector from donors.
Research and dissemination of findings on the benefits of regional integration: KII interviewees expressed the view that whilst the relationship between regional economic integration jobs and in the EAC is important it is not well evidenced or understood. This could include looking at the winners and losers from regional economic integration.
Improving access to labour market data: At present this is not regular or harmonized across countries in the EAC and is therefore ineffective for use in programme design and monitoring and evaluation.
Action plan for job creation promotion from a regional perspective The consensus from the KIIs conducted during the course of this research was that there is not a clear action plan for job creation from a regional perspective.
The EAC Development Strategy for 2011/12 -2015/16) mentions ‘jobs’ a total of six times whilst ‘employment’ is mentioned 24 times106. Whilst strategic interventions are listed for some of the instances these search terms occur, the plan of action for addressing gaps is frequently unclear and is not presented as a set of actions to be undertaken at a regional level. There is not a cohesive, joined up plan for the promotion of job creation from a regional perspective emerging from this document. Nor is there documented evidence on how EAC development strategy at the country level will merge to form an overall action plan in this area.
Job creation features strongly across a number of donor programmes, and donor country plans, looked at during the scope of this research. There is evidence that programmes are in operation (such as TMEA) that are addressing constraints to job creation from a regional perspective. In addition there are signals (such as the draft business case for MSINGI) that donors are receptive to providing further funding in this area. However, there needs to be enhanced coordination between donor programming in the EAC region and across donors to build cohesion.
At the donor level policy and programming can only go so far. To implement the identified actions to support job creation (see section 5.1.5) the support of member states governments will be required. At present a lack of political buy-in and tensions between country and regional priorities hamper the implementation of current, and future, plans. 6.1.7
Conclusion The research looked at supported interventions, self-assessed by KIIs as directly or indirectly focused on job creation in the EAC as well as regional economic development and job creation through a desk review. Regional and bilateral programmes were identified as were challenges to coordination both within donor organisations working in multiple countries within the EAC and amongst donor agencies. The actions identified to support job creation from a regional perspective correlated with the literature reviewed for queries one and two. Among the areas identified as supporting job creation from a regional perspective were the implementation of existing legislation and policy, investment in the transit sector, light industry, education and vocational training, improved enabling environment, research and dissemination on the benefits of regional integration and improved labour market data. At present there is not an identified action plan for job creation promotion from a regional perspective but job creation does feature strongly in donor programming. There is a need to embed actions for job creation at the regional level within the next EAC development strategy to support the implementation of ongoing and future work within this area.