The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has implemented about 70 percent of the protocol on the removal of visa restrictions among its members, COMESA Secretary General Erastus Mwencha said here on Wednesday.
He said that the full implementation of the protocol would speed up the harmonization of laws and immigration practices of members.
Opening the fifth meeting of chief immigration officers, Mwencha said the harmonization of immigration policies, legislation and practices is also aimed at attracting foreign direct investment to the region through a common investment area.
To help the region address the challenges it is facing, there is a need to establish modern and efficient information-sharing mechanism for all immigration authorities in the common market, he said.
The three protocols on the elimination of trade barriers include the protocol on gradual relation and eventual elimination of visa requirements, the protocol on free movement of persons, labor services, right of establishment and residence and the agreement on privileges and immunities adopted by members in 1984.
He urged the participants to learn from other regions such as the Economic Community of West African States that have removed all restrictions to the movement of persons within its region without any negative effects.
The COMESA has expressed concerns over the increasing levels of migration from members.
Mwencha said that a study conducted in the region has shown that labor migration which is largely affected by the impact of globalization was bringing impacts on the development of the countries in the region.