Nigeria moves to implement biometric ECOWAS card with $41M MoU

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by the Nigerian government’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and Euphoria Press for a public private partnership to implement the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Biometric Identity Card, The Guardian Nigeria reports.

The new biometric ECOWAS card replaces the ECOWAS Travel Certificate to enable free movement of goods and people in the African economic region. At an announcement in Abuja, Nigeria, Minister of the Interior Abdulrahman Dambazau said the card allows fingerprint biometrics and biographical details could be instantly verified at checkpoints.

Under the terms of the MoU, Euphoria Press will receive N14.7 billion (US$41 million) to print up to 13 million cards over a ten-year period, according to a government announcement, which will be issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). The card will be linked with the country’s central population registry, the National Identity Card Number system, which is administered by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

The adoption of the biometric photo ID is an obligation under ECOWAS statutes, and demonstrates the seriousness of Nigeria’s integration efforts, according to Dambazau. He also says the country has reached an agreement with Interpol for a security partnership, which is complemented by the strengthened travel credential. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the cards with the aim of facilitating efficient trade between member countries, creating employment opportunities and improving security, but it is also expected to make border crossings easier for individuals, reducing extortion and harassment.

Five countries selected SPS to provide national ECOWAS Biometric ID Cards in November. Africa Digital Rights Hub Founder and Executive Director Teki Akuetteh Falconer told Biometric Update recently that although ECOWAS mandated an integrated identity system in 2010, its implementation has been a slow process.

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