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Migration and Development: An Overview

Migration and development are today increasingly viewed through the prism of the many links existing between the two fields. While development-oriented actions may help in tackling the root causes of migratory flows, migration can, in turn, contribute positively to development, including economic growth, social empowerment and technological progress.


Brain Drain

Migration can pose challenges to countries’ development efforts if not well managed. Such phenomenon as ‘brain drain’, experienced by a number of developing countries in key development sectors, call for more cohesive and sustainable policies.


Factors enhancing Development Potential of Migration

Greater partnership between countries of origin, transit and destination as well as the full integration of the migratory dimension in development policies and dialogue on all levels are crucial steps in enhancing the development potential of migration.


Steps undertaken in Partner States to ensure Free Movement of Labour

The EAC Partner States have reviewed various laws related to work permit to ensure free movement of labor. In accordance with Regulation 6(7) of the EAC Common Market (Free Movement of Workers) Regulations, the Competent Authorities in Partner States issue work permits to East Africans wishing to work within the Partner States within thirty days from the date of application. The work permits may be issued for an initial period up to two years and may be renewed upon application. At the same time, Partner States’ citizens are granted the first privilege in case they are competing for the same positions with nationals from outside the EAC region. The Partner States are also in the process of amending their laws to ease issuance of work permits to EAC citizens.


Harmonised classification for issuance of work / resident permit fees and procedures

Pursuant to the decision of the 20th meeting of the Sectoral Council for Ministers responsible for EAC and Planning, held on 13th July 2014, the EAC Secretariat is co-ordinating the process of harmonisation of the work / residence permit fees in accordance with Regulation 6(9) of EAC Common Market (Free Movement of Workers) Annex II. The Secretariat convened a meeting of the multi-sectoral experts drawn from Partner States’ immigration and labor departments / directorates / agencies, Investment Authorities, Employers and Workers, and employer organisations’ associations from 8-10th June 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.

However, the multi-sectoral experts did not finalise the work and therefore, the proposed harmonised classification and Procedures for issuance of Entry / Work / Residence Permits is still work in progress.

The current status on Work / Residence Permit fees is guided by national laws / administrative procedures put in place by each EAC Partner State. Under the Implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol, the Republics of Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda have waived payment of Work permit fees for East Africans who are workers and those who are establishing themselves.


Increased Labour Migration

The number of migrants crossing borders in search of employment is expected to increase rapidly due to the failure of globalisation to provide jobs and economic opportunities.


Diaspora Citizens

EAC Citizens residing in other countries are encouraged to register with their embassy.



E-Immigration enables users to request for certain services electronically without having to personally appear before the local immigration authorities, for example applications for entry visas, resident permits, passports and even, exit permission.

Terms and Concepts in Migration


Physical evidence that a visa has been granted. This can take the form of a simple stamp or notation in the passport or other travel document. Preferably it will incorporate a unique identifier, linked with visa decision documentation and systems and be protected against fraud or alteration by security features and by the method of affixing physical evidence to the passport or travel document.



The principle of “refoulement” was officially enshrined in Article 33 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and is also contained in the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and Article 3 of the 1984 Convention Against Torture. Article 33 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees contains the following two paragraphs that define the prohibition of the expulsion or return of a refugee:

  1. No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
  2. The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the community of that country.



The process of checking for a match between the identity of the traveler in front of the officer at the point of embarkation or at the border, the information recorded in the traveler’s travel documents and any visas or permissions, and the information regarding that traveler’s identity and status.

Border Management

The border management system is the key control mechanism for overall migration management. Effective border management systems will recognise that facilitation and control are two equally important objectives that must be addressed at the same time.

The ability to address migration issues is a fundamental requirement for responsible national governance, effective international relations and full participation in international or regional institutions. Although migration has been mainly a positive force for development in both countries of origin and destination, unregulated migration can have social, financial and political costs for individuals, societies and governments. Comprehensive, transparent and coherent approaches to immigration on border management processes, involving all countries in the migration on continuum, can help minimise the negative impact of migration on and preserve its integrity as a natural social process. (International Organization for Migration IOM, 1211 Geneva - www.iom.int)

For effective border managements, governments are encouraged to develop appropriate immigration policies and legislation, develop administrative structures and operational systems and the human resource base necessary to respond effectively to diverse migration challenges and to institute appropriate migration on governance.


Objectives of an Effective Border Management System

  • To facilitate bona fide travellers, providing a welcoming and efficient gateway to the State.
  • To provide a barrier and disincentive to entry for those seeking to circumvent migration laws.


Key Components of an Effective Border Management System

The key operational components of an effective border management system are interconnected (and preferably automated) sub-systems that will include trained personnel, an audit capability, inter-agency and international cooperation, and strategic partnerships with carriers and industry.


Factors determining Design for Controls of Entry and Exit at Borders

  • Physical characteristics of the border.
  • Border permeability.
  • Relationship with immediate State neighbours.
  • Commitment and capacity of neighbouring States to control their own borders and manage irregular migration.
  • Whether interception of undocumented travellers is planned and feasible at airport hubs or on the high seas.
  • How much checking on identity and intentions is done at the border or at points remote from the border?
  • Where the visa decision is made.
  • The volume and variability of volume of passengers at the border.

Overview of Migration Management

Migration occupies a very central place in the regional integration process. In order to realise the core objectives of the East African Common Market Protocol - free, safe and orderly movement of persons - migration has to be effectively managed. Migration is also intrinsically tied to migration challenges such as irregular migration, human smuggling and human trafficking and other cross border crimes like car theft, armed robberies and fugitives of law.

At the same time, migration across borders provides opportunities such as increased legal labour migration which has a positive impact on remittances, transfer of technology and increased cross-border trade, which benefit both the receiving and sending countries. To that extent, migration has to be managed in a manner that reduces the negative effects and maximises on the positive aspects.

As a process, therefore, migration comprises stages, actors, policy considerations, stakeholders / partnerships and several other post-migration elements. In order to maximise the development potential of migration, a planned, organised and coordinated approach to the management of migration is necessary.

East African Community
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