PAP called upon to promote continental policies in the context of COVID-19

African Union (AU) specialized institutions and committees have turned to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) to advocate for the domestication of policies adopted at continental level and aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on key African socio-economic sectors. This includes civil aviation and labour migration around the continent.

Members of the PAP Permanent Committees on Trade and Transport were briefed by the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and African Union Labour Migration Advisory Committee (AU-LMAC) during a joint webinar on the role of the continental Parliament in supporting a coordinated multilateral response to the impact of the ongoing pandemic. Members of the PAP were also engaged on the legal instruments requiring ratification and domestication at country level in line with AU’s aspirations for an integrated and prosperous continent.

Mr. Mekonnen TEFERA, Secretary General of the AFCAC says that the COVID-19 crisis has caused border closures and country lockdowns that have forced airlines to ground their fleets and the regional standing in Africa does not differ from the situation worldwide. AFCAC has called on the PAP to promote the prioritization of aviation needs by Governments while strengthening dialogue to implement the fiscal and monetary relief measures to the aviation sector.

“The aviation sector is one of the worse impacted during this crisis. African airlines have lost revenues totalling $6-billion and the continent’s aviation and related sectors have suffered 3.1-million job losses. As a result, AFCAC has proposed a comprehensive post-COVID-19 recovery strategy that has innovatively identified opportunities towards a stable and sustainable recovery for the Civil aviation sector in Africa. The recommendations include the establishment of a stimulus continental fund to support the recovery plans in the short, medium and long-term,” says Mr. Tefera.

AFCAC has also called upon the PAP promote the establishment of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), a flagship project Agenda 2063 aimed at creating a single unified air transport market. AFCAC further appealed to PAP members to impress upon AU member states to adapt the African Civil Aviation Policy to guide in the formulation of their respective national aviation policies and legislations for the sustainable development of air transport in Africa.

Hon. Ousmane Koure JACKOU, Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Transport heeded the call from AFCAC and signaled the commitment of members of the Committee on Transport to work closely with other AU institutions to advance continental initiatives: “We need to ensure that African aviation survives this unprecedented shock, given that for African economies to recover, a vibrant aviation industry will be critical due to the sector’s significant role in social and economic development. The PAP stands ready to accompany this recovery process.”

The joint webinar meeting of the PAP Permanent Committees also featured a session on the role of the PAP in labour migration and the impact of COVID-19.  The continental Parliament was urged to collaborate with AU-LMAC to promote the protection of migrant workers and address the increased discrimination faced by migrants, especially during this pandemic.

“Parliamentarians have a mandate to shape agendas relating to labour migration at the continental, regional and national levels. The intervention of the PAP is sought to advocate for the adoption of response and recovery strategies including the social security mechanisms as well as access to health services, education, protection from violence, socio-economic and psychological support especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislative organ of the AU is also expected to play a critical role in the ratification and domestication of available legal instruments on labour migration,” said Ms. Abimnola OYELOHUNNU, Representative of the AU-LMAC Chair and Programme Officer-Directorate of Humanitarian Affairs at ECOWAS.

LMAC is a tripartite African Labour Migration Advisory Committee  which has been  created by the African Union Commission (AUC) in line with decision of the AU Heads of State adopted in the AU Plan of Action on Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development. The mandate of the Committee is to provide recommendations to Governments, AUC, RECs and social partners to promote improved labour migration governance and protect the rights of migrant workers and members of their families.

“The nexus between trade and movement of persons needs to be clearly established especially as we move towards the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). It is therefore imperative that we raise awareness on international human and labour rights standards to the regional, national and community levels and thus help ensure that they have real impact on the ground,”  concluded Hon. Alex Chersia GRANT, Deputy Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Trade.