The East African Community member states are working on a single currency by 2012 following Thursday’s launch of the Common Market Protocol.
But EAC minister Amason Kingi said Kenyan teachers have to wait until 2015 to be allowed to work in Tanzania. Kenya had, however, liberalised its labour industry and East Africans were free to come and work, Mr Kingi said. Plans were also afoot to review a requirement that foreigners only take jobs whose skills were unavailable locally.
Addressing Government spokesman Alfred Mutua’s weekly briefing, Mr Kingi said a team that includes former Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi had been formed to identify fears among East Africans on the common market and propose resolutions. He said EAC countries were supposed to domesticate freedoms and rights in the common market by August 21.
Mr Kingi said EAC had commissioned a consultant to see how the region could have single currency. “Chiefs of Central Banks are spearheading the process. By 2012 we are supposed to sign another protocol for the establishment of monetary union,” he said. Member states were also free to continue with their own currencies.
The minister said a directive by President Kibaki for waiver of work permit fees for East Africans on Wednesday evening took effect immediately. The President was addressing guests at a dinner organised to mark the start of the Common Market. He asked other EAC partners States to do the same. “There’s no need for anybody to be charged anything for working in their own home.
We want Kenya to be the freest of all,” President Kibaki told participants at the launch whose theme was One People, One Destiny. The Head of State also ordered the Attorney General to harmonise laws that were in conflict with other EAC states for the smooth operation of the common market.
He cut a 10-kilogramme orange cake to welcome the birth of the long awaited single market that will result in free movement of people, trade, capital, labour and services in the region of 126 million people.
Regretting that many Kenyans were unaware of the benefits of integration, the Head of State urged leaders to educate the public. “It is my expectation that public servants charged with executing the Common Market especially those responsible for immigration, labour, customs and education, will adopt the right attitude.”
Terming the launch bold, President Kibaki further saluted the region’s founding fathers for establishing the East African Community. He said the revival of EAC had led to increased trade among partner states.
According to the Uganda Investment Authority, Kenya is among the top 10 sources of foreign direct investment to Uganda with 27 licensed in projects worth $158 million. In Tanzania, Kenya is second biggest investor with 270 companies providing jobs for more than 100,000 people.