October 23, 2015 -
Ghana is leading the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) initiative to provide biometric identification cards to all citizens next year, according to a report by Citi FM Online.
The move comes almost a year after ECOWAS announced it would launch the biometric identity card program in 2016 as a way to ensure the unrestricted movement of community citizens, goods and services in line with the reformed ECOWAS treaty.
The biometric identification card will replace the travel certificate that is currently in use.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is currently hosting a series of workshops throughout Ghana to educate relevant stakeholders and the public about the ECOWAS protocol arrangements.
Sena Siaw-Boateng, the Director/Africa and Regional Integration and Head of the ECOWAS national unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, recently told a crowd of citizens in Tamale that ECOWAS is committed to establishing a single regional market for the unrestricted movement of goods.
“The West African region has defined its priorities with regards to integration in economic and trade matters,” said Siaw-Boateng. “These priorities are the creation of a single regional market for the free movement of goods of ECOWAS origin as well as the introduction of ECOWAS biometric ID cards to facilitate free movement of community citizens.
“The main objective of ECOWAS is to promote cooperation and integration of the national economies and accelerate the economic development of member states in order to improve the living standards of the people. The creation of a single market is largely dependent upon our ability to establish a free Trade Area, Common External Tariff and Customs Union.”
Siaw-Boateng found that some community citizens are unaware of the ongoing integrative arrangements and “they do not form part of the process.”
To resolve this, Siaw-Boateng requested the media to highlight ECOWAS’ transformational agenda, along with its achievements and challenges.
Meanwhile, the Northern Regional Commander of the Ghana Immigration Service, Eric Afari, said that his team is committed to the ECOWAS protocol on facilitating the free movement of people.
“On our part as immigration officers, we are supposed to implement the protocol on free movement of persons, residents and establishments, and it’s important that we once again commit ourselves to this course,” said Afari.
He has called for a sufficient amount of logistics to speed up the movement of border patrol personnel from Ghana Immigration Service, who regularly police unapproved entry routes into the country.
Afari also assured ECOWAS that the service will flush-out foreign illegal miners operating in the country.