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Governments in West Africa continue to make progress towards an area of free movement

06 July 2015

New publication analyses current policies, practices and trends in the area of migration in the fifteen ECOWAS Member States, and makes recommendations aimed at overcoming the obstacles faced in promoting free movement in West Africa.

In West Africa, the movement of people takes place mainly within the region. South-South migration is seven times greater than migration flows from West African countries to other parts of the world. This regional migration plays a crucial role in promoting development and poverty reduction, as well as in contributing to the regional integration process in West Africa and strengthening the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), established in 1975.

Forty years after the foundation of ECOWAS it is time to take stock of the progress made and the challenges ahead in promoting free movement in West Africa. The publication "A Survey on Migration Policies in West Africa", jointly prepared by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) does exactly that. Being the first comprehensive study on migration policies in West Africa endorsed by the ECOWAS Commission, the publication serves as a reference document on the migration situation and related policy framework in the fifteen ECOWAS Member States.

The study shows that despite the adoption of the 1979 Protocol relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment, several factors are still impeding effective inter-regional mobility within the ECOWAS region. Nevertheless, ECOWAS Member States are aiming to address migration, as is evidenced by the fact that the large majority of ECOWAS Member States are explicitly planning to develop a national migration policy or strategy. As underlined by Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, president of the ECOWAS Commission, in his foreword preceding the study, "this endeavour shows that ECOWAS Member States are aware of the importance of ensuring a concerted approach to migration issues within a framework of permanent dialogue."


The study was carried out by ICMPD's Competence Centre for Migration & Development and IOM, commissioned by the Economic Community of West African States and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Photo: Matt Stabile