The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs (MINEACOM), Innocent Safari, has called on professionals, professional associations and regulatory bodies (ministries, departments and agencies) to suggest solutions that will bring about legal environment for cross-border movement of services and service suppliers.
Addressing stakeholders at the 2nd National Consultative Forum on Professional Services, Safari said that the government attaches a lot of importance to the services sector, since it contributes 48 per cent of Rwanda’s GDP.
“As you may be aware, the government attaches serious importance to the services sector. Let us discuss all the available opportunities, especially within the EAC framework and how to tap into them, of course to benefit our economy,” he said.
The forum aimed to discuss the regulation of non-regulated professions in the country and to assess the implementation of the already-concluded EAC Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).
Safari said the East African Common Market Protocol urges free movement of labour and services across the EAC, and calls for regulations on harmonisation and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications.
“It’s unfortunate that those regulations are yet to be finalised but we are trying to make sure that they are adopted by the Council, so that the people of EAC can start enjoying the freedoms as provided for by the protocol,” he said.
He, however, pointed out various MRAs that are being concluded, adding that once the regulations are in place, it should expedite the process.
So far, MRAs for engineers and architects have been concluded while the legal professionals are in the final stages of concluding theirs.
The Services and Trade Advisor to MINEACOM, Chris Mugabe, told the participants that there is a lot that Rwanda gains from the signing of the MRAs.
MRAs facilitate the movement of professionals. They are instrumental to policy reforms and can be a very effective tool for economic integration, while at the same time maintaining the diversity of services that come into the markets,” he said.
The first National Consultative Forum on Professional Services took place in May, 2015 and, among its achievements, was the conclusion of the MRA for veterianians which was signed by the Republics of Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya and is pending signatures from Tanzania and Burundi.