The ECOWAS National Office under the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment in partnership with the ECOWAS Commission, on Wednesday, 20th September 2023 held a day sensitization forum for officers of The Gambia Immigration Department (GID) on the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card (ENBIC) and the Implementation of Free Movement Protocol at the Sir Dawda Kairaba JawaraInternational Conference Center in Bijilo.
The campaign’s overall objective is to raise awareness among ECOWAS community citizens, stakeholders, and non-state actors in the target locations on the implementation of the ECOWAS national biometric identity card and to enhance their understanding of free movement and migration within the ECOWAS region as well as identifying the benefits and opportunities of the ECOWAS integration agenda. The campaign also seeks to sensitize relevant stakeholders and the public to the importance of free movement and migration in the ECOWAS sub-region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Obinna Ajugwo, Border Management and Migration Expert at the ECOWAS Commission said the campaign aims to advance the synergetic cooperation between the ECOWAS Commission and the Gambian Immigration Services and also engender a common understanding of the ECOWAS legal text particularly related to ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.
He observed that the ECOWAS space is notably the region with the most mobile population in Africa and the highest rate of intra-regional mobility, which is governed by the tenets of the Free Movement Protocol.
According to him, enabling the free movement of Persons also poses potential for criminal and illegal such as terrorism, and human and child trafficking. As a result, he said the ECOWAS Commission recognizes the importance of enhancing the capacities of border officials as an integral step towards promoting effective border management and security.
Mr. Ajugwo went on to commend the Gambian authorities for the advancements made in the deployment and implementation of the ENBIC.
Through concerted efforts by member states, he said that the Commission is optimistic that the ECOWAS Biometric Card will achieve its objectives of strengthening security at the border; identification of community citizens at the borders; improving data collection systems; facilitating trade and commerce in the sub-region among others.
In welcoming the participants, Musa Sawaneh, the principal Economist of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Regional Integration thanked the ECOWAS Commission for sensitizing the officers of The Gambia Immigration Department as this is important in their day-to-day operation while commending members of the GID for attending the forum.