(L) Her Excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe, the Secretary General of COMESA (L) & Mr Ashraf El Nour, Regional Director of IOM Southern Africa (Middle) sign the new MoU

Lusaka – The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance their partnership, replacing the one signed 20 years ago in 2003. Her Excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe, COMESA's Secretary General (SG),  signed the MoU, with IOM's Regional Director (RD) for Southern Africa, Ashraf El Nour, in Lusaka, Zambia, on 20 April 2023.  

The MoU expands the area of cooperation to include areas like Migration, Climate Change, and Trade nexus. The changes in the complexity of human mobility, free movement, and migration dimensions of small-scale cross-border trade in the region necessitated this. 

IOM has worked closely with COMESA since 2003, when the two organizations entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, with COMESA having Observer status in IOM since 2011. Notable achievements in the past 20 years include the Migration Dialogues for COMESA member states (MIDCOM), a conduit for bringing migration agenda to member states to enhance regional integration.

During the signing ceremony, IOM's Ashraf El Nour underscored the important collaboration between the two organizations and commended COMESA for addressing the migration-related issues to foster regional integration through a trade angle. Migration has the potential to spur socioeconomic development and growth across the COMESA region and expand job opportunities for the millions of youths entering the labor market each year.

"There is no trade without movement of people, and the more we facilitate easy movement of people, the more we increase trade," Ashraf El Nour emphasized.  

"The agreement is timely in the context of the Africa Continental Free Trade agreement, in addition to managed migration having the potential to accelerate cross border trade and enhance trade flows; a situation that will result in increased incomes for the member states and traders", said Her Excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe, COMESA’s SG, during the signing ceremony at the secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia.  

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