Gaborone, Botswana, 11 November 2023 (ECA) – The free movement of people across borders is an opportunity to boost intra-African trade and regional integration, a review of a regional migration pact has revealed.
A side event organised by the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union Commission and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on the 8th PAN AFRICAN FORUM ON MIGRATION (PAFoM) conference heard that how regular migration could help boost intra African trade and promote regional integration.
The meeting with the theme “Bolstering Free Movement and Trade Nexus in AfCFTA: Optimizing Benefits of Migration, Labour Migration for Development”, brought together key stakeholders, Global Pact for SAfe, Orderly and REgular Migration (GCM) Champion Countries and Youth Representatives in Africa.
The meeting noted that the implementation of the GCM will contribute toward promoting free movement and labour mobility, which in turn would lead to sustained, inclusive economic growth and productive employment for all. It will also contribute to the achievement of SDGs on reducing inequality and eradicating extreme poverty.
Stakeholders were briefed on the second Africa Regional Review on the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) which will take place in October 2024.
The GCM regional review is a member-state-led process with multiple formats and consistent approaches within and between regions. Prior to the continental review meeting a series of multi-stakeholder consultations and engagement will be organized by UNECA, together with partners AUC and IOM. The upcoming GCM review in Africa will focus on subregional GCM implementation initiatives and highlight activities and strategies at ReCs and RCP levels.
Opening the meeting, Director, IOM Special Liaison Office to the African Union Commission and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mariama Cisse, reiterated that mobility and migration contribute to the prosperity, stability, and development of member States.
Ms. Cisse underlined that it is extremely critical to keep women and youth at the centre in policy decisions and programming as those are mostly impacted by migration. Considering this, leveraging these opportunities calls for a deliberate, strategic, collaborative, and coordinated approach of all stakeholders.
ECA Population Affairs Officer in the Social Policy Section, Gideon Rutaremwa, in a presentation, noted that regional integration, economic growth, increasing education, infrastructure expansions and urbanization will increase the capabilities and aspirations of young Africans to move to increase opportunities for themselves and their families. He said such migration will enable the youth to acquire education, skills and jobs, while others will move to join family, flee conflict or oppression.
Mr. Rutaremwa underlined that migration should be seen as an intrinsic and inevitable part of development rather than being continuously treated as a ‘problem to be solved’.
“In view of the inevitability of a future increase of African migration, more African governments are embracing migration as an opportunity for development and regional integration, including trade integration,” Mr. Rutaremwa said, highlighting the need to move beyond the fear-driven crisis narratives that ignore the more complex migration realities.
Member States must face the realities of African migration and acknowledge the considerable development potential of migration without being blind to its potential downsides, said Mr. Rutaremwa.