AFRICANGLOBE – The West African Regional bloc ECOWAS has reached a landmark decision for its 15-member states that will allow ease of movement across borders for its citizens with the use of biometric identity cards. The announcement comes after the 48th Ordinary Summit of ECOWAS Heads of Government meeting held in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.
Amidst heightened security and high expectation leaders of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS met to discuss their regional challenges and how to mitigate them.
“This occasion provides us stakeholders the opportunity to reflect on the progress so far made towards achieving the objectives of ECOWAS over the past 40 years the challenges confronting our community and the way forward toward to fast- tracking deeper integration.” Said Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari
That deeper integration was made more evident by the introduction of the bio-metric identity cards which allows passport-free movement of citizens across ECOWAS member states . A measure aimed at boosting trade potential, creating a labour market, and having one set of rules in policing the borders.
“We have crossed yet another step of our process of economic and political integration That is the adoption of the ECOWAS biometric identity card. It will be the same card for all the ECOWAS citizens when we start issuing in January 2016.” Siad Kadre Desire’ Ouedraogo President ECOWAS
This fundamental freedom of movement is what some Nigerian’s seemed to have been waiting for.
“The world is a global village you have to move from one country to another for business.. schooling. I would like to move to another country to do business.”Said Kayode Fa Kayode, a trader
Perhaps the most controversial outcome of the state summit is the recommendation to side-step religious requirements of dress especially for women in identifying it’s citizens.
“in taking into account the local situation and after that environment are encouraged to take measures in order to forbid this kind of code that will not allow the security personnel to make sure of the identity of the person so this is the content of this decision but of course the implementation is at the national level, but ECOWA has discussed the matter and head of state has recommended these to all ECOWAS member states.” Said Kadre Desire’ Ouedraogo, President ECOWAS
The bio-metric identity cards will be issued at the beginning of January 2016 and each member country tasked to implement the new border policy.
ECOWAS hopes to build upon its 40- year legacy by continuing to confront political volatilily in the West Africa region, and foster equal economic growth but perhaps the biggest gain for the regional partnership is the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and Goods.