The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says its efforts to achieve the economic integration of the sub-region are on course.
Dr Toga Gayewea Mcintosh, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission; said: “Rome was not built in a day” and that ECOWAS founding fathers’ vision was one of regional integration and economic co-operation.
He said the creation of the ECOWAS Biometric Passport and the protocols on the Free Movement of Persons and the Right to Establishments were steps aimed at promoting sub-regional integration.
He said ECOWAS citizens would, by 2016, be issued with the regional bloc’s biometric identification card to facilitate free movements of persons and to aid security in the sub-region.
Dr Mcintosh, who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Abidjan on the sidelines of the first ever Regional Ministerial Conference on Statelessness in West Africa, said issuance of the biometric identification cards would enable continuous travel for citizens within the region.
He said with time ECOWAS citizens holding the biometric identification cards would no longer need any passport to travel within the sub-region.
He said under the ECOWAS Protocol on Right of Establishment, an ECOWAS citizen could move to any member state and establish a business with no hindrances.
Dr Mcintosh described the Ministerial Conference on Statelessness under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ECOWAS and the Ivorian Government as unique.
He said it would require both national and international co-operation and the support of the UNHCR to combat stateliness in the sub-region.
Source : GNA