The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convenes a meeting of experts to finalize a harmonized visa regime (ECOVISA)

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The regional experts in charge of visa issuance and control met in Abuja for a three (3) day technical meeting to validate the recommendations of the working group meeting held previously, to harmonize the cost and design of the visa and to deliberate on other associated modalities related to the implementation of the ECOVISA.

The meeting was officially opened this day, October 11, 2022 by the Acting Chairman of the meeting, Mr. McArious A. Akanbong declared that the meeting was in line with the decision of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in 2000 He urged participants to work closely towards achieving the set goals.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Massandje Touré-Litsé, welcomed the participants on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, HE Dr. Omar Alieu TOURAY, and the new leadership. She reaffirmed the commitment of the ECOWAS Commission to the actualization of ECOVISA which will boost tourism in the ECOWAS region as a major economic activity in terms of income generation, job creation, foreign exchange earnings and cultural exchanges which cannot be neglected. She also highlighted the benefits that the implementation of ECOVISA will bring to the region in terms of foreign direct investment, strengthening of the private sector for industrialization which can boost economic development. Finally, she said that ECOVISA will play a vital role in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a tool for citizens of third countries to focus on our region.

Dr. Yakubu Dadu, Head of the ECOWAS Country Office in Nigeria, recalled the details of the expert meeting held in Accra, Ghana in April 2022 which paved the way. He reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment and confidence in the ECOVISA task force in the effective and efficient execution of the mission entrusted to it. “I have no doubt that the 3-day meeting would further enrich us as we discuss other emerging issues related to the implementation of ECOVISA in our region,” he added.

Mr. Bakary Sanou, Head of the ECOWAS component of the GIZ Support to the African Union Border Program (GIZ/AUBP), acknowledged the commitment that the ECOWAS Commission has shown in the process. He expressed the readiness of GIZ-AUBP to support the process of implementing free movement in the ECOWAS region for all. He called on participants to use the 3 days to ensure that the interest of the region is taken into account.

ECOVISA experts will also deliberate on the standardized cost of ECOVISA, present an example of ECOVISA design and features for validation and validate the terms of reference for the recruitment of competent local service providers to develop the technology to be used for the ECOVISA. .

ECOVISA is inspired by the idea of ​​the Schengen visa which will allow citizens of non-member states to access any of the 15 member states with a single visa.

The 3-day meeting brought together experts in charge of visa issuance, experts in charge of visa control at ports of entry as well as participants from the ECOWAS Commission and GIZ-AUBP.

For reference, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have mandated the ECOWAS Commission to work out the modalities for the smooth implementation of the ECOVISA for migrants from third countries. In fulfillment of this mandate, the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with GIZ-AUBP has launched a study on how to harmonize Visa procedures and processes in the ECOWAS region. An ECOVISA working group was set up and a series of expert meetings were held with experts from Burkina Faso, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Senegal in April 2022 to review the findings of the study. . This expert meeting therefore aims to ensure the final validation to pave the way for the implementation of ECOVISA.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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