The helpdesk query asked for four questions to be answered:
1. What is the link between regional economic integration and job creation in the East African Community (EAC)?
2. What is the status of labour mobility in East Africa, and how could it affect job creation?
3. What actions need to be taken from a regional perspective to support job creation?
4. Is there an obvious plan of action to promote job creation from a regional perspective, or does more work need to be done to develop such a plan?
The literature that was found (detailed in Section 7) found that there were significant gaps in the empirical evidence around the first two questions. The theoretical linkages between regional economic integration and employment are complex. Despite a wide body of theoretical literature on the limitations and benefits of RTAs, empirical studies on the effects of RTAs, and evidence on the linkages of regional integration to trade, economic growth and poverty reduction, the associated employment effects are unclear. Whilst evidence indicates that the regional economic integration does have linkages to employment (and potential job creation) and standard economic theory predicts an increase in comparative advance and subsequently competition, entrepreneurship and jobs, an increase in employment opportunities is dependent on a variety of other factors and may even decrease as a result of regional economic integration. The ability of workers to move into more productive sectors without an increase in unemployment is essential.
The link between labour mobility and job creation could not be validated during this query response. It is difficult to identify literature on the linkages between labour mobility and job creation in the EAC and empirical evidence on labour flows are outdated and do not reference the reasons for labour flows between EAC member states. 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?” The 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.
The following actions, policies or activities were outlined during the course of KIIs and the desk review as supporting job creation from a regional perspective:
Greater coordination between East African governments and implementation of existing legislation and policy;
Enhanced coordination and synergy of donor programming;
Investment in the transit sector;
Development of human capital;
Development of light industry and processing;
Reduction of corruption in the private and public sector;
Enhancing the enabling environment for market development;
Research and dissemination of findings on the benefits of regional integration; and,
Improving access to labour market data.
Whilst there are strategies in place to address these areas the consensus from KIIs and the supplementary desk review is that there is not a cohesive plan on job creation from an EAC wide perspective. The majority of the documentation on strategic planning in this area comes from donors, rather than the EAC Secretariat.
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.