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Hon. Ababu - Terrah Namwamba, EGH, CAS, Foreign Affairs and International Trade

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CLOSING REMARKS BY HON ABABU NAMWAMBA, EGH, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE AT THE IGAD WORKSHOP ON PROTOCOL ON FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS

NAIVASHA, KENYA

21st FEBRUARY, 2018

Executive Secretary, IGAD,

Principal Secretary for Immigration, Border Control and Registration of Persons,

Distinguished IOM Representative,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I take this earliest opportunity to thank the IGAD and our Partners for convening this important session which accords us opportunity to discuss the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in our region. I commend all the participants for your worthwhile input, which will no doubt enrich the final outcome document. I do believe you will all agree with me that this initiative could not have come at a better time, considering the magnitude of the challenge facing us in the Horn of Africa, and the recent adoption of the African Union Free Movement Protocol during the 30th Ordinary Summit of the African Union in January, 2018.
I have no doubt your submissions have greatly enriched provisions of the draft protocol, and by extension addressed the perceived bottlenecks that would otherwise have been a hindrance to its effective implementation. I trust that submissions by the Republic of Kenya are in sync with proposals from the other four IGAD Member States where stakeholders’ consultations have concluded.

 

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Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Governments are obligated under the international Protocols to ensure free movement of people, goods and services. Indeed in today’s globalized world, free movement of people, capital, goods and services is a critical component in facilitating investments and attracting skilled manpower. Intra-Africa trade is predicated on the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. It is in this context that His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta decreed that Kenya opens her doors to peoples across our continent as part of deliberate efforts to boost intra-Africa trade and investment. But of course opening the doors must be done in consonance with the rule of law so as to protect our citizens against human trafficking and related organized criminal activities.

I must admit, however, that it is disheartening to note that intra-Africa trade contributes a meagre 18% of the total trade value on our entire Continent. This scenario emanates from a multiplicity of factors, including non-tariff barriers and lack of requisite trade facilitation due to unfavourable trading regimes, which generally undermines integration of the African Continent. 
The signing of the Africa Union Continental Free Trade Area, if fully backed by the requisite political goodwill, should go a long way in facilitating rapid growth in intra-Africa trade. This initiative, coupled with robust regional mechanisms such as what we have accomplished here in the last few days, will escalate our efforts towards realization of a borderless Africa.

It is also my belief that a better integrated region will reap the full benefits of peaceful coexistence as well as inculcate and accord prominence to the issues which bind us as opposed to our differences. Harnessing our resources both human and economic through better integration will also certainly place us in a much stronger position to better confront the challenges and shortcomings facing our region.

Excellences,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to note that migration of people has played a crucial role in creating cohesion and bridging cultural misunderstanding. We are also aware of the involuntary movement of people, particularly occasioned by conflict and other human activities. This calls for corresponding obligations by the international community of sharing the burden and strains associated with involuntary movement of people. It is neither tenable nor justifiable for a few countries to shoulder the burden while others undertake or devise measures to constrict the free movement of people especially resulting from conflict or related human activities. I am, nonetheless, similarly cognizant of the fact that open boundaries and unfettered access to our various countries does present security challenges if not well managed. It is imperative that Partner States do remain alive to this fact and double their efforts towards better cross border management. This Protocol affords us the opportunity to leverage on each other’s’ strengths, hence the great need to work together towards its success.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ultimate realisation of Africa’s full potential is dependent on the easing of movement of goods, services and human capital across the entire length and breadth of the continent. Indeed it is an important prerequisite for peace and stability to prevail. By facilitating free flow of people, goods and services, the net effect in terms of economic transformation will play a big role in averting resource based conflict due to attendant economic growth. It will also facilitate unfettered flow of capital for growth and shared prosperity. 

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Let me conclude by applauding the great value Kenya's economy draws from our Diaspora spread across the globe. In 2017 alone, Kenyans abroad sent back home a record Kshs 197.1 billion. This is a live illustration of how beneficial the free flow of human capital can be to our domestic economies. It is a benefit we must harness and deepen across our region.

Thank you.

Hon Ababu-Namwamba, EGH
Chief Administrative Secretary for Foreign Affairs & International Trade

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