Uganda is 5th IGAD State to Sign the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons.

By Nambi Catherine:

The intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) protocol on free movement of persons across the IGAD region was first approved by all member states in 2020 during a meeting in Khartoum Sudan.

The protocol which is part of efforts by IGAD member states to address migration and mobility changes across the region has so far been officially endorsed by five out of the eight member states of the bloc.

The countries that have signed so far are Sudan, South Sudan, Somali, Ethiopia and Uganda being the latest.

During Uganda’s signing of the protocol in Kampala IGAD executive Secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehu emphasized that the protocol seeks to ensure a progressive realization of a free movement of persons across the IGAD region.

He said the protocol is pivotal in fostering collaborative efforts towards management of migrations for the economic development of the region which is home to about 270 million people.

“This protocol once ratified by the parliaments of all member states will allow us the citizens of the region to make home wherever in the region, investment wherever in the region as well as movement without any hurdle, without any border hindrance and without and immigration hurdles. This means that will synchronize the economy of the region and will bring social economic integration of the region.” Said Dr Workneh

He challenged the remaining three countries Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea to expedite the processes leading to the signing of the protocol.

Foreign Affairs minister Gen Abu baker Jeje Odong who signed on behalf of Uganda on 14th May 2024 expressed optimism that this protocol could culminate into not only the full integration of the IGAD region but the entire African Continent.

He noted, “At the A.U level they have created champions to champion specific aspects of the activities of the A. president Museveni is the champion for integration and therefore when we put emphasis to a document of this nature it is indeed in line with our belief and aspirations not only for our region IGAD but for our continent Africa. That we must look at all instruments and all possibilities that bring us closer together. “

According to Fathia Alwan the Director of the IGAD health and social development Division says the protocol could be the solution to the unemployment especially major youths who make up a big percentage of the IGAD region’s population.

Fathia said, “This has been a long awaited document to be endorsed by member states and we are happy that in 1986 when the IGAD was founded already our leaders had a vision of how this region will be moving and how to have more mobility. We are one of the regions on the continent with a large and majority population of youths. So it is important we work on the protocol for the youth to have access to the labour market within the region.”

The protocol on free movement of persons is enshrined in the 1996 agreement that established IGAD and also in line with the aspirations of the African union’s 2063 Agenda which advocates for free movement within regional economic communities.