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Two days meeting with Member States and Secretariats of ECOWAS and EAC on Popularization of the Free Movement Protocol opens in Dakar, Senegal

Dates: 
October 11, 2018

Two days meeting with Member States and Secretariats of ECOWAS and EAC on Popularization of the Free Movement Protocol opens in Dakar, Senegal

Dakar, October 11, 2018. A two-day meeting of African Union Member States from East Africa and West Africa regions opens in Dakar, Senegal. The meeting is convened by the African Union Commission’s Department of Political Affairs in close collaboration with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission aimed at the popularization of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa.

The meeting brings together the two Regional Economic Communities (EAC &ECOWAS) which are the pioneers in advancing free movement of persons in Africa. They are in Dakar to exchange ideas and strategies for the acceleration of signature, ratification and full implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa is to give an opportunity to Member States from the two regions to discuss the best way to accelerate the signature, ratification and full implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa soonest.

On behalf of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Mrs Minata Samate Cessouma at the opening session, Dr Khabele Matlosa, Director of Political Affairs Department, said Free Movement of Persons is integral to the Pan-Africanist ideals espoused by the founders of the Organisation of African Unity and African Union such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. It has always been central to continental unity and integration as illustrated by the 1991 Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (commonly known as the Abuja Treaty).

Dr Matlosa observed that Free Movement of Persons and African Passport resonates the commitment of African leaders in the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration of 2013 towards creating a common African citizen. It is also one of the 14 flagship projects of Agenda 2063-The Africa We Want. It is in fulfillment of the aspiration 2 of Agenda 2063 on continental integration based on Pan-Africanism and Africa’s Renaissance.

He noted that three major achievements since the adoption of the Protocol in January 2018 as follows: (a) signature of the Protocol by 32 Member States, even though only one Member States has ratified it; (b) Finalisation of the guidelines on the development, production and issuance of the African Passport; and (c) increasing number of AU Member States progressively relaxing visa regimes to facilitate mobility of Africans with the latest country to do so being Ethiopia on 8 October 2018. He applauded Ethiopia on this milestone.

He explained that the Protocol will be rolled out in three phases which include the Right of Entry, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.

"As a fundamental pre-condition for us to kick off the right of entry, visas have to be abolished. Abolition of visas will also lay a firm foundation for the effective use of the African Passport’’, Dr Matlosa said.

Speaking at the same meeting, Dr Tony Luka Elumelu, Head of Division, Free Movement and Migration, Department of Free Movement of Persons and Tourism, ECOWAS Commission, described the meeting as historic, saying that ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement was signed in Dakar, Senegal, in 2009.

Dr Elumelu said Free Movement Protocol is hinged on the Right of Entry, Right of Residence and the Right of Establishment.

He said that implementation of the Protocol will tackle the crises of international migration from Africa to other continents, adding that it will help in converting irregular migration to a regular one within the continent.

In her remarks, Ms Mary Makoffu, Director of Social Affairs, East African Community (EAC), said Free Movement of Persons in Africa will boost intra-African trade, facilitate regular labour migration, increase revenues from tourism and improve trans-border development.

Ms Makoffu said EAC is committed to ensuring that Free Movement of Persons becomes a reality in Africa by mobilizing and supporting universal ratification of the Protocol by all AU Member States by the year 2020.

Declaring the meeting open, Mr Tamsir Gueye, who represented the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Senegal, urged all Member States to sign and ratify the protocol of Free Movement of Persons in Africa.

He said Free Movement of People within the Continent must be supported by all African countries, adding that the Republic of Senegal will push for the15 ratifications required for the Protocol to be into force.

He commended the African Union Commission for the giant strides so far by achieving 32 signatures for the Protocol.

For further information please contact:

Mr. Yusuf Muhammed
Knowledge Management and Communications Expert
Department of Political Affairs
Mohammedy@africa-union.org
Tel: +251-11-551 77 00

Ms Esther Azaa Tankou
Head of information Division
Email: Yamboua@africa-union.org
Tel: +251911361185

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