Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working within Africa have been urged to harness and use their unique placement as non-state actors to domesticate, popularize and promote the implementation of the continental and regional migration policies on the continent.
These migration policy frameworks including the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) and Plan of Action (2018-2030), and the AU Free Movement Protocol (FMP), which are meant to address, manage and promote migration and mobility as a result of intra-and inter-regional, continental and global migrant flows within and out of Africa, have not yet made the desirable impact.
The Call for Action
The call for action on the CSOs to intervene were made at the opening session of a three-day Regional CSO Sensitization Forum led by the Africa Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), in partnership with GIZ on the Free Movement Protocol (FMP) held in Accra, Ghana from May 17 to 19, 2022.
The sensitization forum is part of efforts towards greater popularization of the protocol within the African Civil Society, and defining the role of African CSOs in the publicity of the free movement protocol and their contribution to its implementation.
ECOSOCC as an Advisory Organ
Established in July 2004 as an Advisory Organ, comprising different social and professional groups of AU Member States, ECOSOCC was tasked to provide an opportunity for Africa CSOs to play an active role in contributing to the AU’s principles, policies and programmes.
The Free Movement Protocol (FMP) was particularly established to reduce and ultimately eliminate barriers to crossing regional borders for various purposes, including trade, work, visits, and establishment of businesses in Member States. Notwithstanding the existence of the various policy frameworks, much remains to be done by African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) regarding their publicity or popularization.
ECOSOCC Head of Secretariat
In a welcome address delivered on behalf of the ECOSOCC Head of Secretariat at the forum, Mr. William Carew, indicated that the issue of cross-border travel is strategic to achieving the AU’s Agenda 2063’s flagship projects which identifies Free Movement on the continent as key to accelerating Africa’s economic growth and development. He therefore urged the CSOs to use their influence to exert some pressure on member countries to take the needed action.
“Where Member States of the AU Commission may be dragging their feet, I call upon members of the civil society whom I like to recognize as an unofficial fourth arm of government on the continent, to take a leading role in pushing parent Member States in prioritizing Labour Migration and Free Movement issues,” he said.
Deputy Minister’s Address
Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, who delivered the keynote address, bemoaned the fact that out of about the thirty (30) countries that have signed the Free Movement Protocol, only a handful have ratified it, notwithstanding the significance of the protocol to the realization of Africa’s development blueprint to achieving inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development captured in Agenda 2063.
“Nonetheless, I call on CSOs to remain committed to popularising and implementing the Protocol, which you would all agree with me, is very critical to the promotion of integration, pan-Africanism, education, research, the facilitation of intra-African trade and investment and improvement in the standards of living of the people of Africa for Africa’s development,” also urged the CSOs.
ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol
The Director in charge of the Free Movement Protocol (FMP) at the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Albert Siaw-Boateng gave the assurance that ECOWAS was determined to go beyond the borders to achieve the vision of the region which is hinged on transitioning from ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of people.
He however pointed to some of the implementation challenges including the many unnecessary road blocks and harassments of community citizens at the common borders; poor knowledge among community citizens and the operatives (immigration, police, gendarmeries, customs etc) about the provisions of the Protocol on Free Movement and its related supplementary acts, especially the rights and obligations of community citizens among others.
The ECOWAS FMP Director also bemoaned the fact that only about 5 countries in the sub-region have so far implemented the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card for intra-regional mobility and the removal of residence permit requirement for citizens in the territories of Member States.
“This is an important document that will increase mobility on the ECOWAS space. Unfortunately, far too few Member States have implemented the NBIC. ECOWAS’ leadership is absolutely essential to assist the Member States to that effect in order to ensure that the travel document meets the standard as prescribed by Decision A/DEC.01/12/14.”
Source: Clement Akoloh||africanewsradio.com