Residents in the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, could soon be able to travel between member nations using biometric ID cards. ECOWAS is comprised of Cape Verde, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, The Gambia, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Niger, Sierra Leone, Cote d’ Ivoire, Senegal, and Mali.
The move was hinted at by ECOWAS Vice President Toga Gayewea McIntosh at a press conference during the Strategic Planning Co-ordinating Committee (SPCC)’s tenth meeting. He suggested that starting in early 2016, the biometric cards would ease the flow of travel between member states, and that citizens wouldn’t even need to have their passports to cross borders. The development is going to be part of the broader Community Strategic Framework, which will see ECOWAS members work with each other, NGOs, and the media to seek improvements in a number of areas of concern, including security.
The plan echoes similar initiatives from other inter-state networks such as the European Union, whose European Commission has begun exploring biometric screening for travel between its own member states. Meanwhile, America’s border control agency has itself started looking into biometric screening at airports, and Saudi Arabia has implemented a national biometric ID program that will help to manage border security and migration. While such initiatives have sometimes given rise to civil rights and privacy concerns, they are increasingly popular around the world as a means of improving both security and the ease of travel across borders.
Source: The Guardian
July 13, 2015 – by Alex Perala