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E.A Community ready for open regional labour transfer

Source : Daily Monitor THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the East African Community (EAC) have started collaborations that will see the free movement of persons and labour among East African nationals in search of employment opportunities.

The Director of ILO Area Office for East Africa, Mr Ali Ibrahim, said the East African component project launched in Arusha last year and financed by the European Union (EU) will support implementation of the EAC treaty commitment in its chapter 17, to establish free movement of persons, labour, services and enjoyment of the right of establishment and residence of citizens within the community.


He said in an ILO report released last week on Labour Migration Project for Development and Integration in East Africa that the community has committed itself with elaboration following the plan on free movement of persons, labour services, right of establishment and residence to be adopted by December2006 to facilitate the establishment of the regional East Africa integration process as envisaged in the EAC treaty.

“We are concerned because migration is central to employment creation, decent work and social dialogue and the mobility of workers is essential to globalisations future possibilities to assure access to labour, distribution of income and wealth and economic productivity in East Africa,” Ibrahim said.

He said migrants not only contribute to development through investment and remittances but also through their skills and entrepreneur activities.

“The issue on migration and development nexus has moved away from the traditional one where under development and the depletion of the national labour force was regarded to be detrimental to development through the loss of highly skilled nationals (brain drain),” Ibrahim said, adding that: “The new focus is that international migration has important benefits for development in both the sending and recipient country and there is the potential of a ‘win-win situation.”

He said remittances have become the single most important source of foreign exchange for a number of developed countries, adding that the transfer of individual earnings are usually expended on improved housing, nutrition, education and health for recipient families and communities thus contributing to sustainable development.

“Imperial evidence has shown that whenever there are gaps in skills development in a country, the productive sectors tend to look beyond the country’s borders to fill in these gaps. Therefore, it is imperative for East African countries to appreciate that whatever the situation, the needed skills for a growing economy will be outsourced from elsewhere, if they are not available in the country,” Ibrahim said.

He commended Uganda saying it has already showed the way in this regard by giving preferential treatment in employment to Kenyans and Tanzanians for skills that could not be availed locally. He urged other countries to emulate this example.

The Minister of State for Labour and Industrial Relations, Mr Joseph Obbo, said in the report that labour migration in any global setting is of extreme significance saying it is relevant in the pursuit of social and economic justice.


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