Participation of NSI Researchers at the 8th PAFOM Conference

The New South Institute (NSI) actively participated in the 8th Conference of the African Union Pan-African Forum on Migration (PAFOM), held from October 31 to November 2, 2023, in Gaborone, Botswana. The event was organized by the African Union in collaboration with the Republic of Botswana and supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The theme for this year’s conference was “Bolstering Free Movement and Trade Nexus in AfCFTA: Optimizing Benefits of Migration, Labour Migration for Development.”

Representing NSI at this significant meeting were Alan Hirsch, Lead Researcher of the Migration Governance Reform Project; Victor Amadi, Research Fellow; and Taiwo Olawole, Counsellor at the Embassy of Nigeria to Ethiopia and Djibouti and at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the AU and UNECA, also a Research Partner on the Migration Governance Reform Project. The conference aimed to explore the connections between free movement and trade, with a specific focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

Hirsch’s 2021 publication, titled “The African Union’s Free Movement of Persons Protocol: Why has it faltered and how can its objectives be achieved?“, received acknowledgment as it was cited in the concept note of the event. This citation underscores the impact and contribution of NSI’s research to the ongoing discourse on migration governance.

The conference was inaugurated by Honourable Anna Maria Mokgethi, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Botswana, who emphasized the historical significance of free movement in Africa. The PAFOM8 theme was highlighted for its alignment with AfCFTA’s goal of creating a single market for goods and services, which is crucial for economic development and integration.

Mr. Maemo Machethe, representing the African Union Commission, spotlighted the AfCFTA as a pivotal initiative for fostering continental integration, economic growth, and human development. Discussions during the three-day forum also delved into the role of national coordination mechanisms in facilitating people’s movement and expanding trade within the AfCFTA framework.

After the event, Alan Hirsch commented on the outcomes, noting the AU member states issued a commendable statement at the close of PAFOM8. Although the initial recommendation to concentrate on skilled labor mobility wasn’t immediately embraced, Hirsch recognized several significant proposals that could lead to more open and systematic movement across Africa.

NSI’s participation in PAFOM8 reflects the institute’s commitment to enriching policy dialogues and research on migration governance and the promotion of free movement within the African continent.

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