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The Economic Community of West African States’ Potential Implementation of a Multi-Country Schengen Visa in Africa (ECOVISA)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, through the Directorate of Free Movement of Persons and Migration, has just concluded a sensitisation meeting on the implementation of a multi-country (Schengen-Type) Single Visa System (ECOVISA) for migrants of third country extraction.

The sensitisation meeting held virtually on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, allowed the ECOWAS Commission to inform stakeholders on the steps taken towards actualising the ECOVISA Regime. During the meeting, the ECOWAS Commission also presented recommendations from the previous Experts Meeting held in October 2022 for their input, particularly concerning the cost, design and processing of the ECOVISA.

In her opening remarks, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Mrs. Massandjé TOURE-LITSE, stated that establishing a Schengen-type single visa system for the ECOWAS region was one of the critical stages for ensuring the free movement of persons and goods. She added that the ECOVISA, a priority for the Authority of Heads of State and Government, would alleviate the difficulties encountered by foreign investors, tourists, and visitors whenever they travel to and within the ECOWAS Community space.

The Commissioner stressed that the implementation of ECOVISA will stimulate economic activities and boost the tourism drive within the region and therefore urged all participants to take ownership of the process. As it will yield positive benefits in the region and strengthen the fabric of the integration agenda. She concluded by reiterating the ECOWAS Commission’s commitment to propelling actions to foster regional collaboration and coordination towards the implementation of the ECOVISA.

The Head of the ECOWAS National Office in Guinea-Bissau, Mrs. Cristina da Silva Pedreira, also the Chairperson of the Meeting, underscored the importance of the meeting, which she said was a follow-up of the ECOVISA Experts Meeting held in Abuja in October 2022. In attendance were stakeholders drawn from the ECOWAS National Offices, Tourism Industry and Private Sector, representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), and the Federation of the West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI).

The recommendations emanating from this meeting will inform the deliberations of the Heads of Immigration and Sectoral Ministers towards finalising the relevant technical specificities.

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