December 17, 2014 -
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) biometric identity card program will launch in 2016.
Previously reported, leaders within the sub-region at the Economic Community of West African States proposed in July to replace residence permits with biometric identification cards.
Designed to ensure the unrestricted movement of citizens from member nations of the community, the new biometric identity card program will replace the travel certificate that is currently in use.
The ID card will circulate alongside the national identity card in each member states for a set period of time until the new ID card is fully implemented within a specified timeframe.
After reading a report by the regional Heads of Immigration Services regarding the use of the ECOWAS national biometric identity card, the ministers endorsed the new biometric ID program for the approval of the Authority of Heads of States and Governments set to meet in Abuja, Nigeria on December 22.
The council also took into account the 2014 Annual Report authored by ECOWAS commission’s president Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo which forecasted an economic activity growth rate of 5.3% in 2014 compared to 4.8% in 2013.
The report also noted that ECOWAS region had continued to be Africa’s most dynamic regional economic community, with expected growth rate of 6.3% in 2014. Additionally, Côte d’Ivoire is expected to record the highest growth rate of 9.1% in the region.
On the proposed customs union, the ECOWAS president told the council that the required activities had been completed for the implementation of the ECOWAS common external tariff in all member states from January 1, 2015.
Additionally, the completion of the text on the community customs code and the adoption of the steering and monitoring mechanism for ECOWAS’ fiscal transition program are also set for the same date.
The council also factored in the interim report of the financial controller, the report of the 16th Session of the ECOWAS Administration and Finance Committee, the Phase 1 report of the study on institutional reforms, as well as the reports of the ECOWAS Finance Ministers on the CET and the meeting of ministers in charge of higher education and scientific research.
Finally, the ministers also examined other reports that stemmed from the extraordinary meeting of ECOWAS Health Ministers, the Regional Strategic Framework for Private Sector development, as well as the Memorandum on Guaranteed Investment Mechanism.