IOM, COMESA Launch Zambia, Zimbabwe Training on Free Movement Protocol

Capacity Building, International and Regional Cooperation

Zambia - IOM and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat this week launched a flagship training programme for the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe on the signature and ratification of the COMESA Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services, Right of Establishment and Residence (known as the Free Movement Protocol).

The training, the first of its kind, represents a significant milestone for the COMESA free movement agenda, and brings together members of the National Monitoring Committees from  a cross-section of government departments, including Ministries of Home Affairs, Labour, Trade and Foreign Affairs from both countries. 

Migration holds considerable potential for economic and social growth and development for countries of origin and destination alike, as well as for individual migrants and their families.

COMESA recognizes the great importance of migration in the context of free trade, noting that for regional integration to be fully realized, citizens of COMESA Member States must be allowed to move freely in order to provide and enhance services, tourism, labour, cultural activities, among other aspects of the COMESA integration agenda.

As stipulated in the COMESA Free Movement Protocol, “a genuine Common Market shall be achieved only when the citizens of Member States can move freely within the Common Market.”

The training is intended to contribute to the expedited signature and ratification of the Free Movement Protocol, which despite having been established in 2001, has not yet entered into force. A minimum of seven ratifications are required for this to happen. To date, just four Member States have signed and two have ratified the Protocol.

“Capacity building of member states is a crucial aspect of moving the free movement agenda forward,” said Dr. Chileshe Mulenga, Permanent Secretary for Zambia’s Ministry of Home Affairs, commending COMESA and IOM for the initiative.

The COMESA Assistant Secretary General (Programmes), Dr. Kipyego Cheluget, emphasized that the training programme is a critical starting point that will help COMESA’s member states to reach out to a range of stakeholders in their respective countries, ultimately to ensure that citizens of the COMESA region can see the practical benefits of regional integration, through the free movement of persons in the region. “This initiative will contribute to increased awareness on the Free Movement Protocol among key stakeholders,” said Dr. Kipyego.

Abibatou Wane, IOM Zambia Chief of Mission, emphasized IOM’s commitment to support the COMESA Secretariat and Member States. “IOM will continue to assist COMESA in the implementation of the Free Movement Protocol in order to make the COMESA objectives on free movement, and indeed the AU Agenda 2063 on regional integration, a reality,” she said.

This programme is being piloted in Zambia and Zimbabwe with the aim implementation across COMESA’s 19 Member States in due course. It was supported by the IOM Development Fund, through a project on building capacity and raising awareness for COMESA Member States to implement the COMESA Free Movement Agenda.

For further information, please contact Bertha Kalyocha Nguvulu at IOM Zambia, Tel: +260 211 254 055, Email: