African Regional Economic Blocs Underscore Free Movement of Persons and Mobility of Labour on the Continent

Djibouti City, Djibouti – Representatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa, the African Union Commission (AUC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labour Organization (ILO) and social partners met for four days, from Monday 9 November, to share experiences and to deliberate on how to collectively enhance the governance of labour migration on the continent. 

The African Union recognizes regional integration and especially the free movement of workers as critical for development and migrant workers as crucial in the flow of goods, finance, and knowledge between countries of origin and destination and in building networks beneficial to communities of origin. 

Deliberations, therefore, focused on how regions should strengthen inter-bloc dialogue on migration, how to make the African Union’s Labour Migration Advisory Committee (LMAC) - a dialogue platform aimed at improving labour migration governance in Africa - more effective, and how commitments enshrined in the Ouagadougou +10 Declaration and Plan of Action on employment, poverty eradication and inclusive development in Africa can be implemented.

Delegates underscored the need to protect migrant workers, to facilitate free movement by removing hurdles on cross-border mobility, to enhance skills development and recognition, improve migration data collection and research, and foster greater engagement with social partners and private sector agencies regarding labour rights and other forms of protection for African migrant workers.

Ms Stéphanie Daviot, Chief of Mission of IOM Djibouti said, “We commend all the RECs for the steps they have made in enhancing the integration agenda and labour migration governance across the continent, and the sustained interest for continued collaboration. IOM stands ready to support this agenda and to support the RECs at national and regional levels on the priorities that will be identified during this workshop”.

RECs are regional groupings of African states closely integrated with the African Union’s (AU’s) work and serving as the continental body’s building blocks. They are mandated to facilitate regional economic integration by promoting free movement of persons and capital among members of the individual regions and through the wider African Economic Community (AEC) established under the 1991 Abuja Treaty.

The Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) and Plan of Action (2018-2030), developed by the African Union Commission, with the assistance of IOM, notes the increasing importance of migration in Africa and underscores Member States and RECs to invest in comprehensive migration policies and institutional frameworks. 

As a result, regional blocs are now increasingly engaged in managing migration and its different aspects such as immigration and labour, data and statistics, gender concerns, economic and social protection, health, environment, and social dialogue.

Six of the eight AU RECs were in attendance, namely, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) who hosted the gathering.

The meeting took place under the auspices of the AU-ILO-IOM-ECA Joint Programme on Labour Migration Governance for Development and Integration in Africa (JLMP), a long-term undertaking by partners, , private sector organizations and civil society representatives working to implement the MPFA and to improve the management of labour migration on the continent. 

Ms Fathia Alwan, Director for Health & Social Development, IGAD Secretariat said, “The main progresses, outcomes and challenges of the Joint Labor Migration Programme (JLMP) Priority project implemented in three RECs over the last three years and the action plan for the next period was highlighted and discussed... In this regard, let me indicate the interest and readiness of IGAD to be part of the next JLMP project and to closely work with African Union Commission, IOM and ILO as implementing partners and, off course, with other AU-RECs.”

IOM is the implementing lead of JLMP, and from the time it was launched in 2018 the programme has so far received funding of $17 million from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

For more information, contact Eric Mazango at IOM Ethiopia, Email: emazango@iom.int 

 

Delegates at the labour migration meeting in Djibouti, November 8 2021.