Feature - September 21, 2023

3rd ECOSOCC-GIZ National Dialogue Accelerates Advocacy for FMP’s Ratification

Last week, the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) held the third edition of its National Dialogue Series (NDS) on the Free Movement Protocol (FMP), to create awareness and accelerate the ratification of the Protocol in Nairobi, Kenya.


Group photo of delegates at the Nairobi dialogue  © AU-ECOSOCC


The National Dialogue Series (NDS) is being held in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which implements its activities on behalf of the German government. The 1st edition of the NDS, which is a multi-stakeholder convening comprising policymakers, civic organizations, academia and the media, was held in Lusaka, Zambia, in March 2023, while the 2nd edition was held in Port-Louis, Mauritius, in May 2023.

The dialogue sensitizes stakeholders on the FMP and advocate for its signing and ratification as well as exploring how the FMP could help the implementation of the AfCFTA. Similarly, ECOSOCC and GIZ jointly hosted the maiden edition of their Editors’ Forum on the Free Movement Protocol, on the side of the Nairobi dialogue, in collaboration with the Eastern Africa Editors Society (EAES), which had in attendance editors and journalists from Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The FMP, along with the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) and its Plan of Action (2018–2030), are central to the AU’s migration policy. While the MPFA provides extensive policy recommendations to AU member states and RECs to aid in the formation and implementation of national and regional migration policies, the FMP promotes the free movement of people and their rights of residence and establishment across the continent.

Mr William Carew, Head of the AU ECOSOCC Secretariat, while giving the opening remarks, said challenges around cross-border travels were militating against the actualization of the AfCFTA adding that free movement was at the heart of the AU’s Agenda 2063. He underscored the fact that AfCFTA will only attain its full potential if Africans were able to move freely describing the FMP as a tool to facilitate labor and skills mobility in Africa.

“I implore you to harness and use your unique placement as non-state actors to use your voice and platforms in the campaign for the ratification, popularization and implementation of these continental migration policies. We have seen the current level of commitment by member states; we need to push further for ratification by engaging in advocacy with key stakeholders at country levels.”

Carew said it was important that non-state actors work to identify the challenges militating against the ratification and implementation of the FMP and subsequently identify pathways towards sustainable solutions to the challenges. “Where member states may be dragging their feet, I call upon the CSOs and media to take a leading role in pushing member states to prioritize the practical implementation of these protocol,” he urged.

Mr Christian Friedemann, Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Kenya, said through GIZ, the German Republic aims to foster safe, orderly and regular migration in Africa, adding that GIZ’s cooperation with the AU entered a new phase in 2022 with two specific focus areas, i.e., Free Movement and Labour Migration.

Mr Friedemann described the MPFA as integral to the AU’s approach to managing mobility, noting that free movement was a key requirement for enhancing regional integration and economic development in Africa. To this end, he described Germany as a keen supporter of the FMP because of the belief that promoting free movement will also contribute to boosting trade and the movement of business people and traders.

“To support the ratification of the FMP, Germany works closely with its partners in the AU and [other] regional organizations to facilitate dialogue and exchange, promote research and provide training. Dialogues such as this contribute to including the perspectives and experiences of African citizens in the continent’s migration agenda. This will be of benefit to migrants, their families and communities on the continent,” Mr Friedemann stated.

In his remarks, Mr Daniel Kalinaki, President of the Eastern Africa Editors Society (EAES), described free movement of people as crucial to Africa’s socio-economic and political advancement, pointing out that the types of narratives around free movement of people will either contribute to making it a reality or make it problematic. In this direction, he said, the media will play a critical role in shaping positive narratives and citizens’ perspectives on migration.

“Colonial borders seek to limit our interaction; as journalists, we commit to raising awareness about the potential of the FMP, as we have seen the prospects of the AfCFTA in terms of boosting intra-African trade. It is important that policymakers and politicians be educated to understand the profitability of the FMP and subsequently translate it into reality to allow people to move freely across borders,” he urged.

Mr Kalinaki said that whereas the dominant narrative about African migration is that of Africans trying to cross the borders to Europe, in reality, most migration happens within Africa, noting that in West Africa, for instance, only a small percentage of migrants migrated to countries outside of the region while the majority of migrants moved across the region. This, he said, emphasizes the need to be deliberate and intentional about promoting free movement within the continent.

In her remarks, Ms Yavi Madurai, a civic activist and facilitator of the NDS, said the prosperity created by the European Union (EU) was built on the principle of the four fundamental freedoms, namely the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital. She added that although migration has its pros and cons, its benefits far outweigh its disadvantages, hence the necessity to implement the Free Movement Protocol.

Ms Madurai said beyond physical borders, African citizens are also dealing with digital barriers, which means they are unable to seamlessly make payments and carry out business transactions. In this vein, she said by building cross-border road infrastructure and open skies, there would be seamless movement of people on the continent, which would reverse the impact of colonization and the continent’s legacy of division created by colonialism.

“Most policymakers only choose to believe the negative narratives around free movement, which is only about 10%. There is not going to be a borderless Africa unless member states are ready to give up some portion of sovereignty, and this doesn’t mean irregular or uncontrolled movement. The term ‘free movement’ doesn’t mean there will be unrestricted movement, because nothing is actually for free,” assured Ms Madurai.

Towards the end of the 2-day convening, participants went into break-out sessions where they developed a road map/advocacy plan for the ratification and implementation of the FMP in Kenya. Highlights of the advocacy plan include a social media-based awareness campaign, advocacy to the ministry of foreign affairs and a civic education campaign on the importance of the ratification and implementation of the FMP by the Republic of Kenya through religious institutions.


Thanks to African Newspage’s partnership with the Africa  Group, a version of the feature article was republished by the APO Newsroom and distributed to over 300 African media publications, such as African Business and the Guardian (Nigeria).

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