African parliamentarians are gathered at the Pan African Parliament’s headquarters on Thursday for the start of the first Committee Sittings in Midrand, South Africa.
Running from 2 to 11 March, the Committee Meetings will cover a wide range of technical topics with the aim of advancing Africa’s development agenda. President of the PAP, Hon. Roger Nkodo-Dang says this year’s meetings will prioritise pressing African-wide issues including open border controls and combating gender-based violence.
“As the legislative body of the African Union, the Committee Sittings form the lifeblood of the parliament’s procedures and decision- making as this is where critical practical matters are discussed and confirmed from all economic regions of the continent.”
A topic that continues to be an imperative, albeit contentious point of discussion is the free movement of people within the borders of Africa. A dedicated workshop on the role of the Parliament in promoting the free movement of people and the administering of an African Passport will be held on Thursday next week.
Facilitated by the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration; the focus of the session will be on the prevailing immigration challenges that threaten African political integration and economic development. It will allow participants to look into the global overview of the status of immigration in Africa, as well as immigration and human resource development coupled with knowledge transfer.
In 2016, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) ruled that the African Passport should be part of the Africa integration process and that it needs to be incorporated in the free movement framework. The deadline for the drafting and adopting of the Protocol on Free Movement of People is January 2018.
Other technical issues that will be covered during the meetings are challenges related to African transport, a workshop on combating terrorism and the role that legislators can play in this regard, as well as a joint workshop of PAP’s Health, Gender and Education Committees on a parliamentarian approach to opposing gender-based violence through education.
The Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Committee will hold a brainstorming session on the role that Parliaments can play in contributing to; and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With a full agenda, the 2017-sittings promise to deliver concrete action towards these issues.