By Staff Reporter

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC) organized a meeting to kickstart the implementation of a joint initiative themed, ‘International Migration in Africa: Shaping a Positive Narrative and Removing Barriers to Mobility. The meeting aimed at arriving at a shared understanding of the project’s key areas of focus in order to achieve measurable results.

Leveraging the institutional strengths of both ECA and AUC, the project will focus on six key thematic areas to address migration challenges in Africa:

  1. Promoting economic empowerment of migrant women.
  2. Improving migration statistics and strengthening the legal identity of migrants in East and Horn of Africa.
  3. Supporting the African Union’s Technical Assistance Facility on Migration Governance.
  4. Combating irregular migration in African Union Horn of Africa Initiative Member States and along migration corridors.
  5. Strengthening cross-border infectious disease surveillance and data collection on migrants’ health; and
  6. Enhancing free movement and labour mobility in Africa. 

In his remarks, Mr Sabelo Mbokazi, Head of Division, Labour, Employment and Migration, AUC emphasized the need to change the African migration narrative, stressing that the idea that African migration is only essentially driven by poverty is based on perceptions on stereotypes and that increasing migration seems “rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ skills and aspirations to migrate, a tendency which is expected to remain in the future.” Mr. Mbokazi added that putting in place good policy and legal frameworks to support Member States in accordance with the African migration agenda is critical for shaping a positive informed narrative and removing barriers to mobility.

Ms. Sweta Saxena, Director, Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). highlighted the need for swift ratification of the African Union protocol on free movement, the recognition of migrants’ potential within the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the promotion of legal identity for migrants. 

For her part, Ms Katchi Madubuko – Migration Policy Officer, IOM reiterated the institution’s firm support for the project and commended the teamwork between the AUC and ECA in pursuing its objectives.