By Norman Isaac Mwambazi
The main purpose of countries to come together and form one bloc is to foster trade between member countries. This means having relaxed tax tariffs or form a single regional tariff, as well as opening up borders for citizens of member states to carry out business in the region.
Although trade has been fostered, the free movement of citizens is still not fully realised, as some countries still require citizens from member states to first apply for and get a visa before they can travel to these countries. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) wants to solve this problem, at least by 2028.
Lucy Daxbacher, the Project Officer for Protocols on free movement of persons at IGAD said in a meeting held at Entebbe yesterday Tuesday, November 17, 2020 that the organisation is working on having member states do away with visa requirements for their citizens for entry and stay in the region by 2028. This, she said, will promote free movement of citizens across member states.
“Member states are working towards the abolishing visas by 2028 so that citizens of member states can enter their countries without a need for a visa but will rather only be required to get a stamp upon arrival in another country,” Daxbacher said.
Daxbacher said the protocol observes the right of entry, stay, and exit which is evidenced by a drive towards a visa-free region, a fundamental step being taken up by member states.
With eight member states namely; Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, the Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda, with over 270 million people, the IGAD region is one of the most closed regions in Africa whereby one is required to have a visa to go to majority of the eight countries.
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