Good news to workers as Tanzania, Kenya slash permit fee
Monday December 20 2021
Kenya and Tanzania have agreed to reduce work permit fees charged on nationals seeking short and long-term work contracts in the two countries.
The period it takes to get a Tanzanian work permit for professionals will also be reduced from 90 days to at least 48 hours.
The decision was arrived at after Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzania’s counterpart Samia Suluhu pledged to remove the remaining non-tariff barriers impeding trade.
“The last time we met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, we had more than 64 Non- Tariff Barriers, but we agreed, by employing the meaning of our names, Uhuru and Suluhu, that we must have the freedom to do business (Uhuru wa kufanya biashara) and a seek solutions (Suluhu) to the challenges facing us,” said President Samia said when she hosted President Kenyatta in the bilateral discussions in Dar es Salaam.
“We removed 46 NTBs out of 64. The effect is that trade between the two countries has grown. We have moved up from $7.53 billion in 2020 to $9.65 billion in 2021,” the Tanzanian leader said.
“In our talks we discussed how our countries depend on each other. Our ecosystems are intertwined and hence it doesn’t benefit us to be closing our borders but rather we need to continue engaging on how to resolve issues that hinder our citizens from conducting business and interacting with one another,” said President Kenyatta. Johnson Weru, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprises Development, told The EastAfrican that Tanzania had agreed to reduce the work permit fee for Kenyan nationals.
“The time between application and decision is what has been shortened. What we are now working on is the amount. That amount is too high for Kenyans. They are reducing it but it has to go through the legislation process.”
Tanzania charges $1,750 for work permits for foreigners, including East African nationals. An application for a work permit can take as long as six months for it to be granted.
Mr Weru is the co-chair of the bilateral talks with Doto M. James, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Industry and Trade in Tanzania.
“Previously they used to take a very long time to grant the permit. Now we have resolved the issue of the time,” said Mr Weru. “If you apply for a work permit today, you should get it tomorrow. However, the work permit depends on what you are going to do there. But, generally, once you satisfy the conditions, it will be issued within the shortest period possible.”
The move will enable Kenyan professionals, especially engineers, to travel for short-term duties in the country.
“If, for example, you are a company that is going to install equipment in Tanzania, it used to be difficult but now they just pay and are given work permits expeditiously,” Mr Weru said. “But if you are a nurse, for example, you cannot just be allowed to enter the country. They have to satisfy themselves that you are indeed genuine.”
John Keriah Ole Mankina, a cross-border trade champion based in Namanga, said that if a Kenyan crosses to Tanzania to purchase goods, he is required to pay for a work permit worth $200.
“Yet doing business does not require a work permit,” he said. The two countries have also resolved to review the fees charged at weighbridges.
“Plans are also underway to harmonise weighbridge charges for Kenyan trucks in transit to Tanzania,” said MR Weru.
“The axle load is another contentious area. There are trucks that are high. If one country has a law that describes what the ideal height is, that is the harmonisation that we are looking for. It requires amendment in the laws.”
The EAC Vehicle Load Control 2012 Act compels truck drivers to observe an axle load limit of 56 tonnes and maximum seven axles for commercial trucks plying the regional road network.
Kenyan trucks are charged Tsh1 million equivalent ($434), even for standard vehicle axle loads.
East African Community’s largest economies are expected to sign the bilateral agreement early next year after they enact laws to accommodate 18 outstanding NTBs, including the work permit fees.