COMESA - Free Movement of Persons

There are two primary legal instruments governing the free movement of people in COMESA, the Protocol on the Gradual Relaxation and Eventual Elimination of Visa Requirements, and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services, the Right of Establishment and Residence. Since the adoption of the Free Movement Protocol in June 1998, only Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia have signed, and Burundi being the only country ratifying it. Mauritius, Rwanda and Seychelles have since waived visas to all COMESA citizens, while Zambia has issued a circular waiving visas and visa fees for all COMESA nationals on official business.[1] In order to meet national implementation challenges, the regional economic community set up the COMESA Model Law on Immigration to harmonize national laws and practices of member States, yet domestication is still slow.

On a much greater platform, TFTA only included a narrow element of free movement of business persons in the greater tripartite area[2]. While the COMESA Business Council is actively working of movement of business people in COMESA region, the same programme has also been addresses at the tripartite level.[3]

[1] COMESA, Three Member States drop visa requirements (Lusaka, Zambia, 2014). Available from    

[2] EAC-COMESA-SADC, Agreement Establishing a tripartite Free Trade Area among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community (2008). Available from

[3] COMESA Business Council, COMESA Business People: Free Movement – More Trade (Lusaka, Zambia, 2007). Available from