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New study calls for free movement of labour in EAC

By George Mangula

A new study has urged East African Community (EAC) partner states to adopt labour migration policies based on international best practices, improve data management and boost the operationalization of One Stop Border Posts. The comparative study assesses migration patterns and policy issues in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania – four of the six EAC countries.

In 2010, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that there were about 19.3 million migrants in Africa, of which 8.4 million were classified as migrant workers. In 2015, the estimated population of the EAC, which also includes South Sudan and Uganda, was over 145.5 million people, with a gross domestic product of about USD 147.5 billion. As the region intensifies efforts to achieve its integration milestones, specifically within the context of the EAC Common Market Protocol, cross-border labour movements have made labour migration a pertinent issue for the partner states.

The East African Common Market Protocol provides for the movement of persons, travel documents and the free movement of workers in particular. It focuses on three migration issues: national policy frameworks, data management and migrant worker practices.

The presentation of the results will assist the four EAC Member States in improving their management of migration flows, in particular those related to labour,” said IOM Tanzania Chief of Mission Dr. Qasim Sufi.

“As people throughout the world are becoming more and more mobile, labour migration is undoubtedly a key issue for all governments and populations,” said Tatiana Hadjiemmanuel, Senior Regional Thematic Specialist on Labour Migration and Human Development at the IOM Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa. “We are very satisfied to see good willingness from EAC countries to work together in improving the protection of migrant workers.”

The comparative study was commissioned within the framework of a regional project Supporting Labour Mobility in the East African Community: Operationalizing the Common Market Protocol Provisions on Free Movement of Persons and Labour, funded by the IOM Development Fund.

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