IOM Joins African Union, RECs and Member States to Urge Speedier Ratification of Free Movement of Persons in Africa Protocol

Gaborone, Botswana – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined forces with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Government of Botswana and other partners to hold the 8th Pan African Forum on Migration (PAFoM8) from 31October to 2November in Gaborone under the theme, “Bolstering Free Movement and Trade Nexus in AfCFTA: Optimizing Benefits of Migration, Labour Migration for Development”.

The meeting featured AU Member States government experts, African Regional Economic Communities (RECs), international organizations, civil society, academia, social partners, parliamentary institutions, private sector, and women and youth formations.

It is extremely appreciated that the African Union Commission has organised this conference with the underlying principle of bringing the attention of the African Union Member States and key partners to the fact that migration, including labour, affects trade and key factors in domestic, regional and international economic relations,” Honourable Anna Maria Mokgethi, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs of Botswana, said in opening the meeting.

“The vision of the African Union as articulated in Agenda 2063, revolves around the principles of integration, free movement, and trade. These principles are the cornerstones of our development policy frameworks, and are more vital than ever before,” said Maemo Machethe, Director of the Khartoum Migration Centre, representing Commissioner for the Department of Health Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development (HHS) of the African Union Commission, H.E. Amb. Minata Samaté Cessouma.

Mariama Cisse Mohamed, Director of IOM's Special Liaison Office to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), praised AU Member States' progress in implementing African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to eliminate trade barriers and boost intra-Africa trade, and emphasized the need for human mobility liberalization.

Participants discussed the slow ratification of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence, and Right of Establishment (FMP) as only Sao Tome and Principe, Rwanda, Niger, and Mali have ratified, urging the AUC and RECs to advocate for its ratification to maximize opportunities for regular migration pathways, mobility, and trade.

IOM officials joined discussions that delved into approaches adopted by the AU and member states on legal identity, civil registry, the labor migration and trade nexus in the AfCFTA, facilitating free movement and mobility as enablers of development in Africa, and regional integration through public-private sector engagement and use of technology and innovation.

IOM, UNECA, and AUC also held an interactive conversation with Global Compact for Migration (GCM) Champion Countries in Africa and IOM Youth for Migration in Africa Ambassadors on the GCM capacity building mechanism, the Network pledging initiative and the forthcoming GCM Regional Review for Africa.

PAFOM is an interregional forum and consultative process for migration and human mobility for Africa established in 2015, and meets annually under a chosen migration theme, with a Minister’s meeting every two years. 

For more information contact Eric Mazango,