Refugees

The African Union (AU) on Tuesday urged efforts to popularize and promote the ratification of the protocol to the treaty establishing the African economic community relating to the free movement of persons.

The call was made by the AU as it called on its 55 member African countries to strive for the ratification of the protocol to the treaty establishing the African economic community under the free movement of persons in Africa, which only needs 15 ratifications to come into force.

The pan African bloc, in its efforts to promote the ambitious protocol, recently gathered together parliamentarians from the East African Community (EAC) as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the AU said in a statement on Tuesday.

African heads of state, adopting the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa together with the protocol’s implementation roadmap and the African passport in January last year, had tasked the AU to promote the ratification of the protocol by African countries.

The AU, while urging its member countries to accelerate the ratification process and entry into force of the free movement pact by end of 2020, also stressed the need to harmonize the free movement regimes, as well as align the normative and policy frameworks of the protocol and its implementation roadmap.

According to the AU’s Humanitarian, Refugees and Displaced Persons Division Head, Olabisi Dare, ratifying the free movement pact, and “opening borders to each other among African countries is a necessary requirement” under the 50-year development Agenda 2063.

“Considering that the protocol only needs 15 ratifications to come into force and that 6 EAC member countries as well as the 15 member states of the ECOWAs have already made significant progress in this area of Free Movement of Persons within their regions, the AU Commission has already embarked on its ratification campaign,” an AU statement quoted Dare as saying on Tuesday.

“Africa has a fast growing population of young people which needs to move around the continent and take advantage of opportunities in the area of employment, education and to boost economic and social integration,” Dare stressed.

According to Dare, eastern and western African countries “have been identified as the most advanced in terms of free movement of persons in their respective regions through the provision of Regional Passports.”

The AU’s call towards the ratification of the free movement pact came weeks after the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement took effect on May 31.

The two ambitious continental initiatives are among the top priorities towards the integration of the Africa, under the leadership of the AU.

The AfCFTA, among other things, aspires to create a tariff-free continent that can grow local businesses, boost intra-African trade, spur industrialization and create more jobs.

The free trade pact, which comes into force after 22 African countries ratified it that fulfilled the minimum threshold needed for the deal to come into force, aspires to create the world’s largest free trade zone by the number of countries, covering more than 1.2 billion people, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Enditem

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