Many professionals in the region, especially engineers, have for long complained that major infrastructure projects are given to foreign firms, even when laocal expertise is available.
But complaining will not make the issue to go away as sometimes governments do not have a say on who executes a certain project.
Since most infrastructure projects are funded by external donors, they have the final word on who wins a tender, especially if it is a turnkey project.
But in some smaller projects, the use of foreign contractors would be unnecessary if the East African Community (EAC) puts its house in order. One solution would be the speedy and full implementation of the Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) signed by Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
They would allow professionals to be recognised in the signatory countries without going through red tape.
The current MRAs are in Accounting, Architecture, Engineering and Veterinary services.
The original EAC member states signed the MRAs in 2012 and Rwanda joined them in 2016. But looking at figures, Kenya has recognised the highest number of engineers, 30. Only one Rwandan engineer has been recognised in each of the three countries.
That said, the MRAs are not being utilised for two possible reasons; some countries still have some stiff hurdles in place or most professionals are unaware of the existence of MRAs.
In order to deal with those challenges, regional professions need to come together in an organised manner, disseminate widely the existence of MRAs and join hands to vie for major projects. Complaints alone are not enough, they have to get off their feet.