Ministry of Labour representatives from all the 55 African Union (AU) Member States, as well as Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), will converge in Nairobi from 10-12 July, for a symposium to establish a roadmap to promote the right of African migrant workers to move, reside and work freely within the continent.
Participants also include representatives from all eight African Regional Economic Communities and selected European Union (EU) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States.
The participants are also expected to develop a common position among governments in East and West Africa on minimum requirements in the development and implementation of agreements that protect labour and social rights of workers migrating from the continent to EU and GCC Member States.
The symposium, “Fostering Labour Mobility within and from Africa”, is the first official continental-level effort to implement the African Union Commission (AUC)-led Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP), which was adopted by the Heads of AU Member States in 2015.
The JLMP estimates that 52.6 per cent of migrants in Africa relocate within the African continent. Little, however, has been achieved in securing the benefits from this movement or regulating it to ensure better protection for migrant workers. Challenges remain in implementing the few existing instruments.
These challenges include weak development of the social security systems in some countries of origin which fail to cover all the benefits granted by the destination countries, lack of compatibility between different social security systems and insufficient administrative capacities in several states to ensure adequate protection or guarantee an efficient transfer of benefits accrued over several years.
Incidences of labour and other rights abuses of migrant workers, xenophobic attacks on migrants and indiscriminate expulsions highlight the challenges of attaining decent work, equality of treatment and protection of human rights according to the standards ratified by many African States.
This symposium with senior Labour Officers and Foreign Affairs Officers is therefore critical for two reasons. First, it will lead to the development of a roadmap that evaluates ways in which African countries can enhance safe and orderly labour migration on the continent through policies, legislation and structures. Second, it will establish minimum requirements in development and implementation of bilateral and multilateral agreements that will safeguard the human, labour and social rights of migrant workers from East and West Africa to EU and GCC Member States.
“It is my sincere hope that at the close of this symposium, we will have a solid strategy in place to tackle some of the key challenges that migrant workers in Africa currently face in order to start to make them a thing of the past,” said Jo Rispoli, IOM Senior Regional Specialist on Labour Mobility and Human Development. “It is good that a wide range of stakeholders will be here to tackle these issues.”
This conference is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Dutch Embassy in Ethiopia, the European Union, and the IOM Development Fund (IDF).
It is jointly hosted by IOM and the AUC, with participation from the ILO, UNECA, and UNDP, which are the three other implementing partners of the Joint Labour Migration Programme. - iom