The Economic Community of West African States is to roll out its biometric identity card in 2016
THE Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, is warming up to score another milestone in its journey towards the integration of member countries in the sub region. It will roll-out its Biometric Identity Card in 2016, according to the communiqué of the organisation’s council of ministers, published in Abuja on Thursday, December 11.
The communiqué of the 73rd ordinary session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers emphasised the fact that the document, which is to be adopted by the organisation’s 15 Member States, is to replace the travel certificate currently in use.
The document states that “The New Biometric Identity Card is to circulate alongside the national identity card in each Member State for a period of time until the institutionalisation” of the new document within a specified timeframe (2016).
The ministers, after considering the report of heads of Immigration Services on the use of the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card, endorsed the document for adoption by the Authority of Heads of State and Government scheduled to convene in Abuja on December 14 and 15.
The Council of Ministers also considered the 2014 annual report of the Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, ECOWAS Commission’s President, who especially pointed out that the growth forecasts were positive with economic activity certain to expand by 5.3 percent in 2014 compared to 4.8 in 2013.
“The ECOWAS region continues to be Africa’s most dynamic regional economic community with expected growth rate of 6.3 percent in 2014”, emphasized the president, while adding that Côte d’Ivoire, with a rate of 9.1 percent, is expected to record the highest growth rate in the region.
As regards the entry into force of the customs union, Ouédraogo informed the council of the completion of all necessary activities for the implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, CET, in all member states from the 1st of January 2015, the finalisation of the text on Community Customs Code and the adoption of the steering and monitoring mechanism for the Organisation’s Fiscal Transition programme.
The council of ministers went on to consider, among other things, the interim report of the financial controller, which made it possible to subsequently develop relevant recommendations and take important decisions, one of which concerns improving the implementation of the protocol on the community levy.
The final report of the 16th meeting of the administration and finance committee, the Phase 1 report of the study on institutional reforms by an international consultancy firm, as well as the report of the ECOWAS finance ministers on the CET and the report of the meeting of ministers in charge of Higher Education and Scientific Research were also considered by the Council of Ministers.
Other reports examined by the council had to do with the extraordinary meeting of ECOWAS Health Ministers, the Regional Strategic Framework for private sector development, as well as the memorandum on Guaranteed Investment Mechanism.
In her address at the end of the session, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, council’s chairperson, expressed profound gratitude to her colleagues for their contribution during the course of the session and the team spirit prevalent throughout the session.
Tetteh, Ghana’s minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration made her closing remarks before the Commission’s President and Heads of various ECOWAS Institutions, as well as Ministers and their representatives from the 15 States of the organisation, commissioners and directors.
In a motion adopted at the end of the session, participants at this 73rd session of the ECOWAS council of ministers, expressed “profound gratitude” to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, government and people of Nigeria for the “warm reception and original African hospitality” accorded them.
— Dec. 29, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT