East African Community governments are under pressure from engineers, who are seeking equal opportunity in working on infrastructure projects in the region.
The engineers say that despite a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) which was signed by four EAC member states to ease mobility of labour and services, they are yet to venture into major projects which are currently being undertaken by foreign contractors.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda signed the MRA in 2012 and Rwanda joined in 2016. However, Burundi and South Sudan are yet to design because they have not yet established legal and institutional frameworks that regulate and oversee engineering work.
Despite having MRA in place, there is very little improvement in mobility of engineers from one country to another and little has been done to ensure that they use MRA to pool resources and skills in order to venture into bigger projects.
The Registrar of Tanzania’s Engineers Registration Board Patrick Barozi said EAC engineers are partnering among themselves but very few projects are awarded to regional large experts.
“It is true that we need to team up across borders and form joint ventures to implement huge infrastructure projects, most of which are currently implemented by foreign contractors such as the firms currently working on Rusumo hydro-power project in Tanzania,” he said.
According to officials, since the signing of MRA, the mobility of engineers is not so impressive. They also cite statistics, which show that Kenya has received only 30 engineers who have been registered in three member states.
Tanzania has received 12 Kenyans, one Rwandan and two Ugandans as professionals, whereas Rwanda has received five Kenyan engineers, three Ugandans and two Tanzanians while Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania received one each from Rwanda.
While regional engineers confess that, there are projects which still need foreign expertise, there are others which they feel could be implemented by local firms if they join hands.
Engineer Nicolas Musuni who is the Registrar at Engineers Board of Kenya said regional engineers have untapped potential and larger pool of venture into bigger projects.