The ability of States to reap the development benefits inherent in migration depends on their migration management capacities, including the integration of migration considerations into evidence-based development policies.
Migration management capacity is particularly crucial in West Africa and the African continent in general, where the development agenda is based on socio-economic integration, including the existence of a free movement regime. , covering the 15 African countries.
Border management in Africa is integral not only to promoting peace, security and stability, but also to facilitating 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 the state, society and civil society to ensure border security.
In West Africa, countries have faced common recurring challenges in border management, for example insufficient infrastructure and equipment; the management of many irregular border crossing points; and the existence of cross-border trafficking and smuggling networks, to name a few.
This situation is exacerbated by contemporary challenges, such as the emergence of violent extremist groups, particularly in the Sahel region, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has precipitated the continued closure of most of the country’s land borders. region.
To address these challenges for States to harness the potentials of migration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in consultation with the countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo – has agreed on five strategic areas of commitment to strengthen governments’ efforts to strengthen border management in these countries.
IOM is 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, Senior Project Manager, IOM, are; Improve infrastructure and equipment at existing border posts; Strengthen information management and traveler processing through the deployment and use of the fully adaptable state-owned Migration Data Analytics System and Border Management Information System; Strengthen border community engagement; Establish mechanisms to respond to cross-border emergencies, including public health emergencies; and Support regional cooperation.
At the Accra Regional Border Management Workshop organized by IOM and funded by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of border management agencies from the targeted countries reiterated the need to come together to address the common challenges that make the sub-region sensitive.
The workshop was to bring together the border management authorities of the targeted countries and their neighbors in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria) to share their experiences and develop recommendations to improve regional and cross-border cooperation in border security.
Participants noted that an effective response to these multi-faceted challenges requires a holistic and strategic approach from all stakeholders, including the state and all its agencies, border communities and civil society, to share mutual understanding of historical and emerging challenges and developing solutions to overcome them.
Ghana, in its quest to address the problem, is responding to both the strategic policy facet and the operational measures, noted Ms. Adelaide Anno-Kumi, Chief Director of the Ministry of Interior.
These include the development of frameworks such as the National Framework for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, the Draft National Border Strategy, the Northern Border Security Strategy, the Government Security Initiative and the National Border Strategy. Accra initiative, among others.
She therefore urged all stakeholders to come together to address the situation in order to enable the sub-region in general, and Ghana in particular, to derive the ultimate development results from migration.
IOM is active among all members of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and has a long-standing partnership with governments to support capacity development to improve the management of immigration and borders.