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Free movement of people in ECOWAS

Aug 7, 2013, 10:23 AM

ECOWAS member states have vowed to make free movement of people, goods and services work well through protocols they all signed.

ECOWAS’s vision is to see our people moving freely, and it went further to initiate what is called the Community Development Program (CDP) to contribute to the implementation of ECOWAS Vision 2020, which envisions transforming the current “ECOWAS of States” into an “ECOWAS of People.”

This new vision commits the ECOWAS Commission, more than ever in the past, to intensify its efforts and to define more ambitious programs geared towards the enhancement of the regional integration and ensuring coherence among development initiatives within the sub-region.

The ECOWAS protocol stated that community citizens have the right to enter, reside and establish in the territory of member states.

However, there are key issues regarding the operationalisation of the protocol that member states agreed to.

They include lack of harmonisation of national laws and policies on migration, as well as inadequate infrastructure to facilitate realisation of a borderless West Africa.

Perhaps to start with, The Gambia and Senegal customs officials definitely have a crucial role to play in this regard.

The countries need to help facilitate legitimate trade, as well as the free movement of people, goods and services through the most direct routes.

Knowing that our countries have a unique relationship due to our historical, geographical and cultural ties, we need to continue to strengthen the co-operation by allowing free movement of our people and goods.

We must remove all the numerous border controls and restrictions that are hindering the full operationslisation of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of people, goods and services.