By Chernor Ojuku Sesay, Information Attaché, Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Brussels, Belgium
Sierra Leone’s Director of European Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has called on Ambassadors of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States to raise their negotiation bars with their European partners particularly in the establishment of Embassies with full Consular Services in ACP States.
Mrs. Isatu Sillah made this intervention at the European Parliament last Tuesday during the ACP-EU Dialogue Conference on Migration in Brussels where she is representing the Government of Sierra Leone.
Mrs. Sillah observed that the lack of Consular Services in some European Embassies operating in ACP countries (citing her country Sierra Leone as an example) is contributing significantly to the depletion of the meager resources of the Government in trying to secure visas for Government officials on official assignments through the use of international courier services.
Mrs. Sillah, who also doubles as the Focal Point on Migration for Sierra Leone, reiterated that it is more annoying when after going through all the hazards, the visas usually issued to officials lasts not a day or two after the scheduled conference.
“This situation is becoming very frustrating and humiliating. These are Government officials with huge responsibilities in their respective countries and have no intentions to stay in these European countries more than necessary,” she stated.
She observed that the situation is far worse for non-government individuals wanting to travel abroad and most of them with genuine causes, but are mostly denied visas or delayed in the issuance of visas thereby defeating the purpose of the EU-ACP partnership on development.
The dialogue meeting confirmed the need to further deepen mutual knowledge and understanding of the multi-faceted issues related to remittances and identified operational indications targeting specifically the areas for both North and South partners with a special focus on specificities of South-South corridors.
At the government and regional levels
Jointly explore ways to improve the legislative and regulatory framework of sending and receiving countries, in particular in order to promote competitiveness on the financial market
-Reinforce the capacity of the relevant authorities in the area of collection of reliable data, their processing and analysis both at EU and ACP level, including through peer to peer cooperation and exchange of best practices.
-Make available to the relevant actors as well as to the general public data on transfer costs in order to improve their transparency and comparability.
Government and private sector
-Broaden the typology of formal channels that can be used to send and receive remittances, including postal networks and other relevant stakeholders. In this context the use of new technologies such as mobile phones should be further encouraged.
-Assess gaps and constraints of the current systems in order to ease transfers, including through allowing migrants to open bank accounts in both source and receiving countries
-Pursue the efforts to further decrease the costs of remittances, both from the EU to ACP countries and between ACP countries.
-Promote accessibility of financial services in both regions, with particular attention to rural areas.
Government and overall population
- Promote financial education for sending and recipients sides to enhance management and development impact of remittances.