Three East African states on Friday sealed a mutual recognition agreement for professional engineers, which will allow engineering practitioners move and work freely in these countries.
Countries involved in the agreement include Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Burundi and Rwanda are also members of the East African Community (EAC), but they are not part of the signed agreement, due to what was described as lacking of professional conformity on engineers.
The signing event was held in the EAC headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, and will underpin the attainment of the benefits enshrined in the agreement and the common market protocol of EAC.
EAC director of infrastructure Phillip Wambugu described the move as an important tool towards practical implementation of EAC's Common Market Protocol, which is approaching the third year since its inception in 2010.
"This step taken by the engineers is critical as it opens the way for other professions to negotiate and sign their respective MRAs (Annex of the Mutual Recognition of Academic and Professional Qualifications) and further enables the progress towards enabling cross border practices across Partner States," he said.
Uganda's engineers' registrar James Okiror said the move will facilitate the movement of professional engineers and maintain the diversity of the engineering service providers that come onto the EAC markets.
"Engineers will benefit a lot from this agreement as it will facilitate economic integration, increase availability of greater consumer choice of engineering services," Okiror said.
Steven Mlote of the Tanzania's Engineers' Board stated that the idea is also meant to increase opportunities for mutual learning and the transmission of regulatory experience as well as enhancing stimulus for professional engineers to make the necessary adaptations to the changing economic and social environments.
"This will also raise professional standards as well as the level of access to professional engineering services," he said, adding:
"We'll use this platform to empower our engineers so that they become competent and come up with their own giant engineering firms, which can be able to compete with companies from outside the regional bloc."
Mlote said he was optimistic that the agreement will be operational early next year, as it has to pass into two steps-EAC council of ministers and the heads of state summit-for endorsement.