THE EAST AFRICAN Community Customs Union, which opened regional borders and allowed free movement of labour and goods, came into force three years ago. The development gave Rwandans and other East Africans an opportunity to move freely and work in any of the five partner states without facing bureaucratic hurdles.
This also presented a huge opportunity for local professionals to expand their reach and export skills across the region. However, in Rwanda, this seems to have hit a snag as the country lacks professional bodies to certify and support skilled citizens as they seek for employment elsewhere in the region.
Besides, many of them do not have the specialised skills needed to join such bodies that include nursing, law, architecture and engineering and nursing, among others. This poses a serious challenge that needs an immediate solution if our professionals are to benefit from the opportunities presented by the EAC. Remember that when many of our experts are working across the region, this boosts the country's skills pool and the economy gains from remittances they send back home.
Therefore, universities and other institutions in the country could set up mechanisms where all local professionals can be endorsed in the interim period as the different professions organise themselves. The institutions, in conjunction with the East African Community ministry, could also organise professional courses that examine and certify professionals.
Although this could be an interim measure, it sets ground for the different sectors to set up recognised professional regulatory bodies under the tutelage of their regional peers. The government could also weigh in and ensure that the right procedures are followed in setting up such bodies by developing modules for the said professional courses.
The EAC minister, Monique Mukaruliza, says her ministry is helping Rwandans who seek employment in the region to attain the necessary endorsement and support from Rwandan missions in the region, which is a welcome move.
Let us all rally behind our professionals as they seek means to foray into the regional labour market.