COMESA and the International Organization for Migration, IOM conducted a Peer to Peer meeting at the secretariat to identify areas and activities the two organizations need to implement to enhance the implementation of regional integration programmes.
Participants to the two-day meeting which took place 15 -17 July 2019 was drawn from the IOM regional offices in Pretoria as well as the Zambian office and the COMESA secretariat staff.
So far, the two organizations are carrying out two projects funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11). These are; the Small-Scale Cross Border Trade Programme and the Trade Facilitation Programme. The latter is expected to accelerate the implementation of the Free Movement of persons.
“COMESA’s enhanced implementation of the programme on Free Movement of persons shall result in Member states harnessing the benefits of migration for development through trade and investment opportunities,” the Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe said in a statement presented by Assistant Secretary General (Administration) Dr. Dev Haman.
She stressed: “No one cannot talk of investment and related programmes such as the COMESA Common Area Investment Agreement (CCIA) without addressing the issue of movement of persons and goods.”
The relationship between COMESA and IOM has existed for close to two decades with tangible results in various aspects such as the establishment of the Regional Consultative Platform for COMESA (MIDCOM). This is a biannual event through which Member States conduct non-binding dialogue on migration as well as the development of tools for capacity building and awareness creation of COMESA Legal instruments on Migration.
International Organization for Migration, Regional Director for the Southern African, Charles Kwenin reiterated the need to address challenges that come up with movement of persons such as international organized crime, human trafficking and smuggling.
“If COMESA and IOM are to harness the dividends of migration for development, the two organizations need to do more to promote regular migration and address irregular migration,” he said.
To build confidence among our Member States to fully ease the movement of persons, Mr. Kwenin said there is need for migration data at the regional level and related information sharing mechanisms.
“So, as we emphasize the need for data or statistics, we also have to recognize the fact that Member States will only make policies and decisions on the basis of evidence,” Kwenin said.