The ability of states to reap the development rewards inherent in migration is conditioned on their migration management capacities, including mainstreaming of migration considerations into evidence-based development policies.
Migration management capacity is especially crucial in West Africa and the African Continent in general, where the development agenda is founded on socio-economic integration, including the existence of a free movement regime, covering the 15 African countries.
Border management in Africa is an integral component not only to promote peace, security, and stability but also to facilitate the integration process and sustainable development of the Continent.
Thus, border management is situated within a border governance approach, which includes norms, institutions, and collaboration between state, society, and civil society to ensure border security.
In West Africa, countries have faced some common perennial challenges in managing borders, for example the inadequate infrastructure and equipment; management of numerous irregular border crossing points; and the existence of cross border trafficking and smuggling networks are to mention but a few.
This situation is exacerbated by contemporary challenges, such as the emergence of violent extremist groups, notably in the Sahel region, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has precipitated the continued closure of most land borders in the region.
To address these challenges for states to harness the potentials of migration, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in consultation with the littoral Gulf of Guinea countries – Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo – has agreed on five strategic areas of engagement to reinforce governments efforts in strengthening border management in these countries.
The IOM is being guided by regional and global frameworks, including the AU Strategy, in its efforts to address these challenges.
These five strategic areas, according to Mr Nnamdi Iwuora, the Senior Project Manager, IOM, are; Improving infrastructure and equipment at existing border posts; Strengthening information management and traveler processing through the deployment and use of the Migration Data Analysis System and fully adaptable and state-owned border management information system; Reinforcing border community engagement; Establishing mechanisms for responding to cross border emergencies, including public health emergencies; and Supporting regional cooperation.
At the just-ended Accra Regional Border Management Workshop by the IOM, with funding from the Federal Foreign Office, the representatives from the border management agencies of the targeted countries reiterated the need to join hands to address the common challenges that make the sub-region susceptible.
The workshop was to bring together border management authorities from the targeted countries and their neighbours in the Sahel Region (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria) to share experiences and develop recommendations to improve regional and cross border cooperation on border security.
The participants noted that effective response to these multifaceted challenges requires a holistic and strategic approach by all stakeholders, including the state and all its agencies, border communities and civil society, to share a mutual understanding of the historic and emerging challenges and to develop solutions to overcome them.
Ghana, in her quest to address the problem, is responding on both the strategic policy facet as well as operational measures, Mrs Adelaide Anno-Kumi, the Chief Director of the Ministry of the Interior, noted.
These are the development of frameworks such as the National Framework for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, the draft National Border Strategy, Northern Border Security Strategy, Government Security Initiative, and the Accra Initiative, among others.
She, therefore, urged all stakeholders to join hands to address the situation to enable the sub-region in general, and Ghana in particular, to derive the ultimate development results from migration.
The IOM is active among all ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) members and has long-standing partnership with the governments to support capacity development to improve immigration and border management.
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