East African Professional Services Platform
The Platform therefore aims to bring professional services issues to the forefront of policy agenda of the East African community. The mission of the platform is to foster a single integrated and vibrant market for professional services in East Africa.
The mission of the platform is to foster a single integrated and vibrant market for professional services in East Africa. The platform was born out of the recognition of the critical importance of developing professional services along with other services sectors like telecommunications, banking and transport to harness development of the East African Economy.
Professional services matter for East African development. This service sub sector comprises a variety of heterogeneous activities that are important drivers of growth, productivity and innovation in the economy. Within the range of professional services, there are a number of business oriented professional services which include accounting, architecture, engineering, ICT, legal services, marketing and advertising. This subset of professional services forms an important part in an economy as they facilitate and support businesses from across a range of sectors, from agriculture to mining to telecommunications. Business-oriented professional services play an important part in the ability of all sectors to operate and grow. A recent World Bank Study found that labour productivity of firms that use accounting, legal and engineering professional services in East African can be as high as 45% higher than that of firms that do not. Additionally, professional services offer an important avenue for export diversification in the East African Community.
Despite this however, there is a huge gap between the potential contribution of the sector to the East African economy and the meagre contribution it makes today. This is mainly due to the fact that the regional market for professional services is largely underdeveloped, and fragmented by restrictive policies and regulatory heterogeneity. As such there is need for policy reforms both at the national and regional level in the areas of trade, labour mobility, education and issues of recognition. Notwithstanding the recent progress made with the adoption of the framework Mutual Recognition Agreement under the EAC Common Market Protocol and the signing of Mutual Recognition Agreements in the accounting and architectural sectors in 2011, the professional services sector has not received adequate attention.
The Platform therefore aims to bring professional services issues to the forefront of policy agenda of the East African community. But beyond providing policy level support, the strategic focus of the platform takes a two pronged approach which also includes industry level support.
In fulfilling its functions the platform is, among others:
a. Filling information gaps on trade in professional services, including current regulations and regulatory barriers;
b. Establishing a consultative mechanism for collecting, analyzing and diffusing information on regulations and reforms affecting professional services;
c. Creating networking opportunities for platform members to engage around common areas of focus and develop common policy positions that affect the professional services sector;
d. Facilitating collaboration between platform members and relevant stakeholders;
e. Facilitating the preparation and advocacy of policy positions;
f. Facilitating intra-regional linkages/partnerships of professional services providers; and
g. Providing general membership support.
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