Fortune News | Sep 16,2023
Non-nationals who apply for a work permit to engage in the construction sector must get a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Urban Development & Construction, according to a new directive issued two weeks ago.
The new directive that made the engagement of foreign citizens in the construction sector more stringent also requires expatriates in the construction industry to have at least a decade of professional experience in the specified job title. The directive listed 55 professions that are open to foreign citizens.
The designing and building of façades, kitchens, signage and acoustics; project management; real estate management; cost engineering; interior designers and construction are among the areas that are open for non-nationals. To get hired in these areas, the expatriate must have a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 15 years of professional experience.
An employer that is going to hire an ex-pat in these jobs must apply to the Ministry to get a recommendation letter to obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs. The application should be accompanied by a professional competence certificate of the expatriate. The recommendation letter serves for three years and must be renewed every year.
A work permit provided to an expatriate can be extended if the local assistant of the expatriate cannot take over the job from the non-national professional and when the expatriate remains crucial for the work. The directive demanded the employer train local assistants and submit a report about the knowledge transfer from the non-national to local professionals quarterly.
The directive aims to minimise the number of foreigners that engage in the construction industry and reduce unemployment and other illicit activities, according to Abdu Jemal, head of Construction Sector Competitiveness & Enrichment at the Ministry.
"The construction industry has been challenged with many problems, and the Ministry has been receiving serious complaints," said Abdu.
Non-nationals came into the country and have been scrambling for the local market, employment opportunities, are engaged in small businesses, foreign currency smuggling, and other illegal activities, claimed Abdu.
Out of the total number of expatriates in the country, 53pc are engaged in the construction industry. The Construction Ministry issues 50,000 to 60,000 building construction permits and building occupancy permits a year.
During the drafting process, the Ministry dispatched questionnaires to 147 organisations to collect input. The drafting process involved private and public construction companies, 17 professional associations such as the Ethiopian Construction Contractors Association and the Association of Ethiopian Architects.
The directive obliges employers to hire a local assistant who is supposed to replace an expatriate and produce evidence showing that the employer prepared a replacement. The expatriate is required to work only with the employer mentioned in the work permit, be available in the workplace with the given work permit, work only in the job title mentioned in the work permit book, and transfer knowledge to their local assistant.
The directive is indispensable to the construction sector, but the restrictions for unnecessary foreign professionals should have also applied to international organisations in work that can be accomplished by local companies, according to Amha Sime, president of the Ethiopian Construction Contractors Association.
"Because of the absence of a legal or regulatory framework to restrict them, large numbers of non-nationals have been entering the country to engage in jobs that they are not entitled to," he said.
The influx of non-nationals resulted in unemployment in the industry, the foreign currency crunch, crime and construction quality problems, claimed Amha.
The directive has included most of the feedback given on the draft by the the Association of Ethiopian Architects, according to Amanuel Teshome, president of the Association, which recommended only seven professions be open to foreigners.
Amanuel recommends the Ministry carefully follow up the knowledge and technology transfer from the ex-pats to the local professionals.
“Local assistants should come with high professional statuses so that they are capable of catching up to the expatriates,” he said.
To examine the competence and qualifications of applicant expatriates, the Ministry needs to establish examination centres for assessment, certification and training of local professionals, recommends Amanuel.
“The Ministry should make available the list of Ethiopian professionals who have completed the knowledge and skills transfer from expatriates,” he said.
The directive should have transparently included the fines that will be imposed on those who offend the directive, according to Addis Adugna, a construction expert for over two decades.
“The other problem is that the country has limited testing and certification capacity and facilities for examining the competence of foreign professionals,” said Addis.
As the country is heading toward free trade arrangements, this move could be in contradiction with the principles of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the African Continental Free Trade Area, according to Addis.
“But the directive may serve the country's needs for the moment,” Addis said.
PUBLISHED ON Aug 22,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1060]
Fortune News | Sep 16,2023
Radar | Jan 05,2019
Fortune News | Apr 29,2023
Radar | Oct 07,2023
Radar | Nov 21,2020
Radar | Oct 23,2018
Radar | Sep 04,2022
Fortune News | Mar 12,2022
Radar | Aug 29,2020
Fortune News | Jan 07,2023
Dec 24 , 2022
Biniam Mikru heads the department of cabinet affairs under Mayor Adanech Abiebie. But...
Jul 2 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
On a rainy afternoon last week, a coffee processing facility in the capital's Akaki-Qality District was abuzz with activ...
Nov 27 , 2021
Against my will, I have witnessed the most terrible defeat of reason and the most sa...
Nov 13 , 2021
Plans and reality do not always gel. They rarely do in a fast-moving world. Every act...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country's most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or two...
Nov 25 , 2023
Ethiopia's quest to develop a functioning capital market is a demanding yet not unach...
Nov 18 , 2023
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has made a fervent call for landlocked Ethiopia to ga...
Nov 11 , 2023
In November last year, a ray of hope pierced the gloomy skies of Ethiopia as the Pret...
Nov 4 , 2023
In the corridors of economic policy-making, a quote often attributed to Albert Einste...
Or see contact page