The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, has said that the regional body will, in January 1, 2016, begin the implementation of the ECOWAS Biometric Identity Card which will allow all West African citizens to move freely through Africa without any other paper.
Ouedraogo made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen at the occasion to mark the Europe Day, on Friday night in Abuja.
He said the move was one of the policies ECOWAS learnt from the EU and it is trying to implement in the region.
“Certainly we have a lot of lessons to learn from EU, especially on this policy of uniting the people. For instance the EU has a policy whereby the citizens can move freely throughout Europe. So we also in West Africa plan to establish a common standard of immigration policy. This is what we intend to do by instituting what we call the ECOWAS Biometric Identity Card which will come into force in the 1st January of 2016, which will allow all West African citizens to move freely through Africa without any other paper.
“So this is the lesson, for instance, we have learnt from Europe and we are implementing it very fast. And of course, Europe has had success in areas of industrial development, agriculture, and we want to learn from what they have succeeded in and also learn where they fail so that we can be a strong West Africa based on their experience. Indeed, they are cooperating fully with us, in partnership,” Ouedraogo said.
The commission’s president also said that the European Union (EU) is supporting ECOWAS with 1.2 billion Euros as part of the effort to assist on its Regional Indicative Programme designed for integration process.
He said the EU was one of the most privileged partners of West Africa.
“We congratulate Europe for this unity and certainly Europe is a strong and special partner for ECOWAS. They are supporting us in the integration process and they help us on what is called ‘Regional Indicative Programme.’ It was a programme of about 6oo million Euros and now it has doubled to go to 1.2 billion Euros for the ECOWAS region or an Indicative Regional Programme,” he said.
The ECOWAS president explained that the aid was besides other supports being rendered to individual member states.