By Mariatou Ngum
The Operations of The Gambia’s National Platform on Cross-Border Cooperation and Free Movement and Migration (CBC-FMM) was, on Friday, 10th February 2023 launched at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE) conference hall, Banjul.
The launches of the CBC-FMM will no doubt kick-start robust implementation in The Gambia and its neighbouring States of the ECOWAS Cross-Border Cooperation Support Programme (ECBCSP) 2021-2025.
The ECBCSP is a regional program developed vides a decision of the Authority of Heads of State and Government taken in Niamey on 12th January 2006 at its 29th Ordinary Session. The program is a multi-sectoral development program that works with border communities, National and Local Authorities, and Civil Society to ensure social cohesion, regional construction, and sustainable development.
The program promotes regional peace and security, manages migration and free movement, and supports Joint Socio-Economic Development Initiatives and local community development projects that empower community citizens and strengthen cooperation, integration, and development across borders.
Implementation of the ECOWAS Cross-Border Cooperation Programme is further justified by provisions of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, the Protocols on Free Movement of Persons, Goods, and Services; the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) and the ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration and related ECOWAS Common Migration Frameworks.
Over the years, ECOWAS has worked rigorously with Member States and development partners and elaborated the Program for full implementation not only at the Regional but at all Levels in the West Africa Sub-Region.
The program’s overall objective is to strengthen Cross-Border Cooperation among populations, states, and markets, and accelerate and deepen regional integration from below in ECOWAS.
Mr. Albert Siaw-Boateng, the Director of Free Movement And Migration on behalf of the Hon Commissioner For Economic Affairs And Agriculture, ECOWAS Commission commended the Honourable Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment and the Government of The Gambia for responding accordingly to the regional call to put in place a Technical Committee to address migration and development issues at the national level and in particular, support regional efforts aimed at promoting the effective application of ECOWAS Protocols on Free Movement across borders.
“As we meet to further our exchanges on Cooperation, Integration, and development, we must remain cognizant of the accompanying benefits of these strategies for Social Cohesion and Regional Construction. Today’s Event once again demonstrates The Gambia’s keen interest, commitment, and support of efforts aimed at advancing the ECOWAS Integration Agenda,” Siaw-Boateng stated.
As ECOWAS continues to pursue its vision of ‘an ECOWAS of Peoples’, Mr. Siaw-Boateng assured that; “we shall continue to ensure that more people-centered programs and projects are launched, supported and successfully implemented. It is in this regard that the ECOWAS Council of Ministers endorsed the operationalization of the ECBC-FMM Fund which will be put in place to finance Local, National, Zonal, and Regional Social and Economic Development Projects that will empower Local Communities and Border Populations as they are Central to the Regional Integration Agenda”.
He assured of the unalloyed support of the ECOWAS Commission to ensure successful operations of The Gambia’s ECOWAS CBC-FMM National Platform and to efforts aimed at achieving their joint objectives to deepen Regional Integration.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Mr. Abdoulie Jammeh who also doubles as the Deputy Permanent Secretary of MoTIE, Mr. Abdoulie Jammeh said the ECBCSP if fully implemented, will manage migration and free movement supports joint socio-economic development, strengthen cooperation and integration, and promote regional peace and security.
Delivering the closing remarks, Mr. Assan Tangara, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior who is also the deputy chairperson of the Committee urged the committee members to prioritize projects that can quickly be funded within 6 months to enable the Commission to report on them in the upcoming AFC meeting in June.