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The “Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives” (Think Tank) is an initiative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to enhance youth participation in governance and policy formulation in Uganda. The Think Tank is a group of highly qualified and committed young Ugandans, who interact and work together on a regular basis to analyze policy issues and develop policy alternatives from the perspective of the young generation. The group members lead by example in the promotion of issue-based and constructive dialogue and debate, adhering to the guiding principles of tolerance and objectivity.
The East African Community Treaty provides for the establishment of a Common Market among Partner States which shall be subject to a Protocol that will inter alia provide for the free movement of labour across the region. A Protocol on the Common Market was subsequently discussed and approved by the EAC partner states in November 2009 and became effective in July 2010. The rationale for the Common Market Protocol (CMP) is to deepen the integration process through cooperation in the economic and social spheres
only possible through the opening of spaces and opportunities hinged on a non-restrictive legal and institutional environment for free movement of goods, services and labour among others. The CMP is only a phase in the wider integration processes that will be followed by a Monetary Union and subsequently a Political Federation, all intended to make the five EAC countries have paced and balanced economic, social and political development.
The full implementation of the CMP is poised to register significant benefits to the youth fraternity in the region as youth are considered a high mobility segment of any population. The EAC region also shares skills variability and high sector specific unemployment which can ably be addressed through the free movement of labour from within the region. This paper therefore attempts to track the legal and institutional compliance to the principle of free movement of labour as enshrined in the EAC Treaty as well as the CMP. The study assesses Uganda’s compliance to its obligations intended to free the inward and outward movement of labour with the cardinal objective is to provide observed and analytical information that is essential to deepening, widening and smoothening integration as a means to enhancing youth employment in the region under a common labour market for the people of East Africa.
The Common Markets Protocol (CMP) commits partner states to ease cross-border movement of persons and eventually adopt an integrated border management system. The CMP further provides for the removal of legal and institutional restrictions on the movement of labour and establishment of common standards and measures for association of workers and employers. The member states are also to establish employment promotion centres and eventually adopt a common employment policy. Further, the member states are to facilitate the right of residence of the citizens of the EAC.
Whiles as the CMP indicates that its implementation shall be progressive and in accordance with the relevant laws of the Community and those of the partner states, 5 years down the road, its benefits among which is free movement of labour remains contested. Various media, academics and other stakeholders including the EAC secretariat argue that ‘All five the Partner States are lagging behind implementation’ of the CMP. Whereas the EAC and indeed many other stakeholders do indicate that the CMP is behind implementation and contest the benefits so far, the real problem squarely lies in the lack of well researched, analytical and documented information on the CMP progress especially as it relates to the compliance of Partner states to free movement of labour. There is therefore need to undertake a comprehensive study that assesses the compliance of Partners states to the principle of free movement of labour across the region as a basis for informed policy advocacy towards a true integrated East Africa.
The EAC think tank working group will use this occasion to share the findings of a researched policy paper with the wider think tank membership in a bid to generate consensus and develop policy recommendations that reflect the aspirations of the young people of East Africa.