The Centre for Migration Studies at the University of Ghana, has released research findings that raise questions about the original intention of free movement for ECOWAS member countries. Professor Mariama Awumbila together with a team of researchers have reported in their findings that Free Movement is currently active with some member states issuing ECOWAS passports to their citizens, however, individual countries of ECOWAS have trammel policies and frameworks that do not simply allow a fellow ECOWAS migrant an equal access to economic related sectors – particularly employment and other private sectors of their economy.
Though visible that member states are continually trading easily following the ratification of the free movement agreement, migrants – especially youth, have been identified to face challenges in job acquisition and employment in some sectors of member countries.
According to the study, the expectation of equal opportunity between migrants and national are not met. Most countries have provisions in their labor laws and regulations that preserve certain public sector jobs for their nationals. As it stands now, a rising number of illegitimate and uncontrolled intra-country movement is jeopardizing the ability of ECOWAS to further plans of the free movement protocol and establish a free rights of residence in member states.
ECOWAS is determined to ensure Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment and Supplementary Protocols to enhance intra-regional movement. To enable the effectiveness of this, member states will have to integrate free movement of their fellow ECOWAS members into their country and develop plans to avoid pre-existing policies that make migrants less privileged.
Prof. Awumbila and her team, mentioned that there is a need to enhance and broaden policies within the socio-economic sector that envisions to transform national economies and provide sustainable employment/job opportunities for youth in ECOWAS countries. Additionally, ECOWAS will need to develop a migration strategy that controls migration of member states, abuses of human rights and complaints of national citizens. Also the group recommended a periodic survey to identify practical challenges facing the implementation of the free movement protocols and associated initiatives.