The annual meeting of the Heads of Immigration of the ECOWAS Member States held virtually on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 to exchange vital information, experiences, good practices while adopting a common position on contemporary free movement and migration matters.The Meeting with the theme Deepening Regional Integration: Strengthening Security and Border Management Systems and Adapting the Free Movement Regime to the Coronavirus Pandemic, aims to foster regional collaboration towards ensuring effective and efficient migration and border management, the full implementation of the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocols as well as intra-regional mobility, among others.
Declaring the meeting open, Mr. Tei Konzi, Commissioner for Trade, Custom and Free Movement of the ECOWAS Commission, highlighted that in addition to the challenges of socio-economic development, the ECOWAS region now faces new security and health challenges.
Konzi stressed that the region is facing a multidimensional crisis that calls for collective action, “This situation requires us more than ever before to strengthen cooperation and solidarity within the framework of our common organization to ensure the security and mobility of citizens in order to accelerate the process of integration and development,” he said.
A statement by the ECOWAS Commission on Thursday in Abuja said that Konzi urged the delegates to exchange necessary experiences with a view to improving the understanding of the common strategies on the implementation of the ECOWAS protocol on the Free Movement of Persons as well as the supplementary protocol on right of residence and establishment based on the community texts.
The immigration chiefs are also looking forward to and working towards the realisation of defined goals which include the establishment in Nigeria of the regional training academy on Migration, the development of a regional policy on Migration and a strategy for the implementation of regional visa (ECOVISA).
In a goodwill message presented on behalf of the European Union (EU), Eleni Zerzelidou, said that the was meeting was a good opportunity of having a better understanding of how to overcome the identified challenges. She reiterated the EU’s support to ECOWAS in the realisation of its free movement objectives.
Regional Director for West and Central Africa of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Sophie Nonnenmacher, thanked the EU and ECOWAS for their support to the Migration Dialogue for West Africa, MIDWA.
The meeting, which was co-chaired by the Head of Ghana Immigration Service, Kwame Asuah Takyi, also featured presentations and briefs on the outcome of previous meetings and key documents on migration, Supplementary Acts and Decisions related to the Protocol of Free of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment as well as progress reports on the establishment of the ECOWAS Immigration Training Academy and the implementation of the ECOVISA, among others.