Lusaka, Friday, May 25, 2018: COMESA in collaboration with the UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the Government of Zambia hosted the third African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) European Union (EU) Migration Action Peer-to-Peer exchange on visas from 22 – 24 May 2018 in Lusaka.
The objective of the meeting was to contribute to knowledge development within the ACP region on promoting orderly and safe migration under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
High-level technical experts from the ACP and EU countries and other stakeholders with knowledge of visas attended the meeting whose theme was ‘Good governance of mobility’.
Assistant Secretary General in Charge of Programmes in COMESA Dr Kipyego Cheluget, briefed the delegates on the progress so far made by members States of the regional bloc to ease the movement of persons through the implementation of the COMESA protocol on the Gradual Relaxation and Eventual Elimination of Visa restrictions.
“Though the levels of implementation of the protocols by Member States is varied, many have attained the highest levels of implementation,” Amb. Cheluget said. “Rwanda, Mauritius and Seychelles have removed visa requirements for most African countries, with the exception of a few.”
Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe are leading in partially implementing the second protocol, which is on Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services and Right of establishment and Residence.
Dr Cheluget attributed the restrictive immigration practices that have persisted since the colonial era as a major contributor to the low levels of intra-African trade and development on the continent.
“In COMESA, we believe that free movement of persons comes along with all the other factors that contribute to growth and remains an unavoidable necessity for the envisioned Africa Union,” he said.
He called on governments to quickly implement the protocols and open their borders.
Ms Annie Lane, IOM Zambia Chief of Mission observed that many States, including those who belong to the ACP-EU group, face significant challenges in ensuring that migration is completed in a safe and dignified manner.
Zambia’s Minister of Home Affairs Hon. Stephen Kampyongo, who was the chief guest, described the meeting as an opportunity to forge a common way forward on how migration can be regulated without placing impediments on free movement, which is crucial in the context of the global economy.
He stated: “Visas form an integral part of any government’s attempt to regulate migration and can be an efficient tool for border management but they must be managed in a way that they do not create obstacles to development.”
Other notable speakers at the event were the Head of the EU Delegation to Zambia Ambassador Alessandro Mariani and the Head of the Programme for ACP-EU Migration Action Mr Jacque Mathieu.