AFRICAN countries in the COMESA region have failed to move an inch towards the abolishing of visa requirements and reducing border controls despite efforts from the European Union to assist them financially under the 11th European Union development fund.
The European Union (EU) head of delegation in Zambia and special representative to COMESA, Giles Hervio, has said a total of US$15 million has been reserved for strategy adoption and related work plan for implementing the visa protocol over a period of five years.
Mr. Hervio told a COMESA publication that £685 million would be made available to countries in the coming years to support initiatives to enhance free movements of business persons and professionals.
‘’An additional £25 million is available to build capacity in the Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean regions mainly to support the improvement of migration governance and facilitate legal migration; it will also support initiatives for refugees and displaced people with a specific focus on the Horn of Africa,’’ Mr. Hervio said.
The visa requirement, commonly known as visa protocol and a prerequisite for anyone to enter into the another country, has existed since 1984 but has not yet achieved full implementation in the region while the free movement of persons protocol adopted in 2001 ratified by Burundi, and signed by Rwanda and Zimbabwe, is still a debated issue. Intra-COMESA trade has the potential to increase but non-tariff barriers which include restrictive immigration practices are impending the region’s efforts to increase trade.
African leaders who are members of COMESA have been criticized for not implementing decisions of the COMESA council of ministers and the organization has for years depended on donor funding.
There have not been any comments yet from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) regional office profiled for improving immigration governance and smooth facilitation of legal migration world over.