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ECOWAS drums importance of regional biometric ID card for The Gambia in integration push

ECOWAS drums importance of regional biometric ID card for The Gambia in integration push

The Economic and Monetary Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recently undertook a sensitization tour to The Gambia to reiterate the importance of the regional ID credential dubbed the ECOWAS National Biometric ID Card (ENBIC).

During the visit, the ECOWAS Commission, through its Directorate of Free Movements and Immigration, told immigration officers and transborder commercial motorists in The Gambia of the importance of the ENBIC in driving intra-regional trade and integration, according to a press release.

Albert Siaw-Boateng, an official of the Commission, speaking through a representative, used the meeting to inform citizens of The Gambia, the government as well as non-state stakeholders of the necessity to ensure the free movement of persons and services within the ECOWAS. The official also used the two-day sensitization meeting to explain how the regional biometric card can be obtained.

While acknowledging the government of The Gambia for its efforts in adopting the ENBIC, Siaw-Boateng said it is his belief that more efforts and collaboration will facilitate the attainment of their set objectives.

In his remarks, an economist at the Gambian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Regional Integration and Empowerment, Musa Sawaneh, described the biometric ID card as an important tool for regional development. The ID, according to Sawaneh, will not only allow people to move freely across the borders of ECOWAS member countries, it will equally help in the handling of border closure delays and security issues.

The ENBIC is a biometric credential adopted by ECOWAS heads of state in 2014 as a way of enhancing travel and trade transactions among the countries that make up the economic and political bloc.

So far, only six of the 15 ECOWAS members have issued the card, with the ECOWAS Commission recently urging states still dragging their feet to take steps towards doing so.

Meanwhile, ECOWAS is also running WURI, a World Bank-funded regional ID card project which the bloc believes will boost commercial transactions and financial inclusion.

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