Africa Centre for International Trade and Development (ACINTaD) has urged African governments to sign and ratify the Protocol on Free Movement of People to aid the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Mr Isaac Hubert Arthur, the Executive Director of ACINTaD, said that so far only about four Member States have ratified the Protocol on Free Movement of People.
He emphasised the need for African governments to consider signing and ratifying the Protocol to aid in the successful implementation of the AfCFTA and achieve full integration of the African Continent.
“Implementing only the protocol on goods and services alone will not be enough to achieve an African Continental Free Trade Area,” he said.
Mr Arthur made these known in Arusha, Tanzania during the 2nd Edition of the Arusha Symposium on the Quality of Public Institutions, an event organized by the Pan - African Center for Policy Studies (PACPS) from November 11-13, 2019 with support from the German Agency for International Development Cooperation (GIZ).
AfCFTA is a think tank dedicated to building trade development capacity and sustainable development in Africa,
The Symposium was under the theme “The African Continental Free Trade Area and Free Movement of people: Overcoming Implementation Challenges (Between Market and People).
The Symposium brought together participants from Academia, Private Sector, Civil Society, Regional Economic Communities, the AU Commission and many others.
Mr Arthur, who was speaking on a panel under the Session, ‘Strategies to Harmonize or Create Coherence and Agreement at the Regional and Member States level’, explained that he understands the sensitivities around the Free Movement of People Protocol and its implication for Member States.
However, he believes that “goods cannot move across the borders without the people moving freely.”
He indicated that most Africans already move across the borders but within confined regions. He added that signing and ratifying the Free Movement of People Protocol though beneficial, will also require some form of legalization and control of movement across the borders to curb sovereignty and security concerns raised by some African Member States.
According to the Executive Director of ACINTaD, in any Free Trade Area, not only is economic integration vital, but it also creates avenues for the supply of human capital in sectors with low skills and labour shortages, which can, in turn, contribute to economic growth.
It also encourages social integration such as sports, education, access to health facilities and other opportunities that will
help in achieving the AU Agenda 2063 - The Africa We Want.
Speaking on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of East African Business Council (EABC), Geoffrey Kamanzi said that the Protocol on Free Movement of People should be facilitated to ensure that the AfCFTA works and brings the needed benefits.
David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, UNECA in delivering the Keynote Address said that there is pessimism that there is no political will supporting the free movement of people.
However, there is optimism that mode 3 (commercial presence) and mode 4 (movement of people to provide services) will allow movement of people under mutual agreements between countries.
ACINTaD believes that for the smooth implementation of the AfCFTA and to ensure an integrated continent, African governments must consider signing and ratifying the Protocol on Free Movement of People.
The Symposium acknowledged that ECOWAS has had great experience with free movement of people in its region and encouraged other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to learn from ECOWAS.
Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Ebenezer Sabutey | Joy Business