Experts on visa issues drawn from member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), met in Abuja on the deployment of the regional visa otherwise known as ECOVISA.
The ECOVISA, according to the ECOWAS Commission, is billed to facilitate the seamless movement of citizens of ECOWAS member states in the region.
The commission added that the meeting which held virtually, among other issues, afforded the experts the opportunity to present and discuss additional, as well as proposed security features of the ECO document and the necessary accompanying measures for the implementation of the decision of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS on the matter.
“Besides consolidating the proposed road map for the roll-out and deployment of the ECOVISA, the experts are also examining data exchange/registration platform for migrants amongst member states’ consular services, host country immigration services and ECOWAS itself,” the ECOWAS Commission said.
Declaring the meeting open, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Mr. Tei Konzi noted that in recognition of the fact that the ECO Visa should help facilitate mobility in the ECOWAS area, it is important that delegates make concrete recommendations for future validation by regional ministers in charge of security and migration.
“He stressed that in working out modalities for the proper implementation of ECOVISA, member states are to be engaged in developing a regional visa roadmap for the process, emergence of a Schengen type visa for the region while reassessing and updating the consideration of the emerging evolution of migration in the ECOWAS region, especially during the COVID-19 period,” the ECOWAS Commission also said.
Konzi further took note of the need for a “consolidation of the roadmap proposed for the deployment of ECOVISA, the data exchange and registration platform for migrants at the level of consular services of ECOWAS member states and immigration from host countries and ECOWAS.”
“Specifically, Mr. Konzi also disclosed that the Commission’s expectations are for the ECOVISA be made a powerful tool for tourism, a source of foreign exchange, as well as for enabling regional environment for a free movement of investors and foreign workers.
“He thanked stakeholders, representatives of the technical and financial partners of ECOWAS, who support the Commission for the strengthening of regional integration, peace, cohesion and socio-economic development,” the ECOWAS Commission added.
The Chair of the meeting and Commissioner of Police of the Republic of Niger, Mr. Hassane Ismail, emphasised on the importance of the meeting’s agenda, while looking forward to the progress to be made with the recommendations that will emanate from the day’s deliberations.
Amid presentations, the delegates also ascertained the current status of information request for citizens domiciled in the ECOWAS host nation to immigration offices while taking a look at the increased understanding by member states’ delegates of the shared regional opportunities and challenges presented by the harmonised visa.
The adopted recommendations of the meeting are expected to be submitted to the ECOWAS ministerial meeting for further consideration.