Officials of ECOWAS countries and experts on migration meet in Dakar, Senegal, June 20, to brainstorm on a common migration for the region
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Jun. 24, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE African Development Bank, AfDB in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS Commission, is organising a brainstorming workshop on common migration policy for ECOWAS. The workshop, which is scheduled to hold at the Novotel Hotel in Dakar, Senegal, from June 20 to 21, will serve as a guide to the development of a modern day migration policy that responds to the aspirations of the region’s citizens. The new policy is expected to conform to present-day realities. The workshop will bring together officials from member states and experts dealing with migration policy issues.
The workshop will also be used to streamline a technical and political approach as well as generate recommendations that can guide the development of a modern day migration policy that responds to the aspirations of the region’s citizens and conforms to present-day realities.
Asides from creating a platform of interaction between stakeholders, civil society and members of the private sector, the workshop will also give participants an opportunity to make inputs on vital policies that will help in the development of the common regional policy on migration for the ECOWAS. They will also provide inputs that will guide work on the related subject of remittances; and to define modalities for the review and modernisation of the protocol on free movement of persons and the rights of residency and establishment.
ECOWAS Commission was established in May 1975 to promote an integrated socio-economic space for the region’s citizens. One of the objectives of the regional body is to enable the free movement of persons, goods and services. In 1979, the ECOWAS Commission adopted the protocol on free movement of persons, which establishes the right of residence and establishment. The first phase of the protocol – which became effective 1980, guaranteed free entry of citizens from member states without visa for 90 days. The second phase of the protocol, dealing with right of residence, became effective in July 1986. However, Right of Establishment is yet to come into force.
The citizens of ECOWAS are among the most mobile in the world, and trends indicate that they mainly migrate within the ECOWAS region. This trend has been formalised since the ratification of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. In addition to the ratification of the Protocol, ECOWAS countries have introduced a common ECOWAS passport, and have abolished entry visas for Community Citizens.
While these moves have led to a significant improvement in the ability of ECOWAS citizens to move across borders, recent labour and migration trends have begun to reveal gaps in the protocol of free movement. This is especially so with respect to the Rights of Residency and Establishment, as well as issues of the mutual recognition of qualifications, which neither facilitate social mobility of the migrants, nor leverage migration for development both in the receiving and the sending countries. These issues pose a major policy challenge.