Building capacity to help Africa trade better

PAFoM IV calls on free movement of people to formalize trade across borders


PAFoM IV calls on free movement of people to formalize trade across borders

PAFoM IV calls on free movement of people to formalize trade across borders

The Fourth Pan African Forum on Migration (PAFoM IV) began on 19 November 2018 in Djibouti City under the theme ‘Harnessing the benefits of Free Movement of persons regime for sustainable development in Africa’.

The Government of Djibouti is hosting the three-day conference in collaboration with the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM), the African Union Commission (AUC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Held annually since 2014, the Forum aims to provide more focused engagement with all relevant migration stakeholders on the African continent to discuss, among other things, the achievements and challenges of free movement of persons regimes in Africa and examine the urgency to promote effective labour migration governance.

Dozens of delegates are gathered representing 34 African Union member states, Regional Economic Commissions (RECs), international organizations, private sector, trade unions, academia, parliamentarians, African diaspora community and civil society organizations working on migration issues.

Opening the deliberations, Prime Minister of Djibouti, Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed urged African member states to foster dialogue “because migration transcends across borders, it requires enhanced cooperation and coordination”. He further reiterated the importance of the meeting in order to promote a common understanding migration issues in the continent.

In her keynote address, Director of the AU Social Affairs Department Mrs. Cisse Mariamma thanked the Government of Djibouti for hosting the meeting and supporting the participants and guests attending this meeting. She urged all partners to support AU efforts in strengthening the PAFoM, especially as it moves in the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) after the international conference in Marrakesh, Morocco in December.

“PAFoM not only provides us an opportunity to bring all Regional migration agenda together for us to learn from each other, but also provide a follow up on the implementation of the GCM in the continent,” she concluded.

Other presenters noted the importance of cooperation with neighbouring states as key to create stronger border regimes and systems and emphasized that a balanced view of migration is required to increase development and security.

Free movement can help to facilitate the transfer of skills and close skill gaps, but skills must be recognized across borders. The importance of data and information was highlighted as essential to help develop evidenced based labour migration frameworks and policies.

The conference covers a myriad of topics related to migration in Africa, including: a coordinated human mobility agenda for Africa: the benefits and challenges of free movement; the continental free trade area; accurate data for evidence-based policy making; and fostering social cohesion, integration and security cooperation.

The event complements efforts being made by the African Union (AU) and respective RECs to increase the capacity of member states as well as consolidate instruments, policies, laws and other commitments that facilitate the free movement of people, goods and services on the continent. The expected outcome will include a Draft Common African Position on Migration and on Refugees based on existing continental and regional normative and legal frameworks on migration and refugees.

A recent study commissioned by the AU and IOM,  pdf Evaluation of the African Union Migration Policy Framework for Africa (2.14 MB)  revealed that more than 80 per cent of African migration today occurs within Africa itself, either intra-regionally (particularly within the West, East and Southern African regions) or inter-regionally (from West Africa to Southern Africa, from East/Horn of Africa to Southern Africa and from Central Africa to Southern Africa and West Africa).

It is thus becoming increasingly important for the AU to guide renewed policies of free movement of persons on the continent. Free movement of African populations is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063, the blueprint to propel the continent to prosperity within the next 50 years, which emphasizes “a continent with seamless borders”. However, the Africa Visa Openness Index, a guide by the African Development Bank (AfDB), reveals that African countries remain largely closed off to African citizens.

Consequently, in January this year, Heads of States and Government of the African Union adopted the pdf Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the Right of Residence and the Right of Establishment (3.80 MB) in Addis Ababa. The Protocol is one of the pillars of the integration process of the continent, along with the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Single African Air Transport Market.

The Protocol includes an Implementation Roadmap in which people can move freely within the continent with clear pathways for regularizing their stay and businesses in countries of destination. It will also enhance collection of reliable data on such movements, promote portability of skills and social protection among labour migrants, hence ensuring their effective participation in building the economies of the host community.


PAFoM provides a platform for African regional institutions and partners to share information on current migration trends, patterns and dynamics, newly emerging issues and reliable migration data at the national, regional and continental level in order to find durable solutions to the migration challenges in Africa. Its objective is to enhance capacities of the Africa regional frameworks on migration to facilitate intra-regional migration and human mobility, free movement of persons and integrated border management through sharing of knowledge, information, good practices, experiences and lessons learnt.

PAFoM IV seeks to provide a platform where participants will have an opportunity to reflect on the progress made so far in the implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement and challenges therein. The meeting will also take stock of the progress taken so far by different Member States to implement and or ascend the Protocol after the Kigali meeting in April 2018. This reflection will also provide an opportunity to strengthen advocacy strategies targeting those Member States that have not ratified and domesticated the Protocol to encourage them to hasten the process with the aim of promoting free movement in the continent.

The meeting will also take stock of other Migration management initiatives in the continent including the progress made in the implementation of the pdf Revised Migration Policy Framework (MPFA) and Plan of Action 2018-2027 (2.70 MB)  and provide update and initial discussions on how the continent can implement the Global Compact on Migration once adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco by end of this year. As an overall Continental Migration Dialogue Initiative, this year’s PAFoM will also provide an opportunity for RECs and Regional Consultative Processes (RCPs) to update participants on progress made on different migration initiatives in their areas to promote information sharing and synergies among RECs and Member States.

The January 2018 African Union Executive Council Decision adopted the Revised Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) and its 12-year Action Plan. The Decision further requested African Union Member States to align their Migration Policy Frameworks with the new continental framework including its Plan of Action. This decision is a follow up of the 2006 Executive Council Decision on the pdf Migration Policy Framework for Africa (348 KB) specifically requested the AU Commission to work with IOM and other relevant partners to assist Member States to strengthen migration governance and collaboration among themselves.

The pdf Common African Position (CAP) on the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular Migration (581 KB)  that was endorsed by Executive Council and the AU Assembly in 2018 also provides a Policy directive to AU Member States to speak with one voice on all important issues on migration during the intergovernmental negotiations on migration.


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