The ECOWAS Commission convened a virtual Maiden Regional Sensitisation and Awareness Event on the West African Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI) programme, on 29 September 2022.
The event was convened under the Chairmanship of the Head of ECOWAS National Office of Guinea-Bissau, Madam Cristina da Silva Pedreira, to provide a platform for the WURI projects implementing Member States and stakeholders to share information and their experience so that Member States’ institutions with digital identification management, immigration and security functions and Heads of the ECOWAS National Offices are better informed about the WURI programme. The event was attended by representatives of Benin, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, the World Bank, and the ECOWAS Commission.
The Director of Free Movement and Migration, speaking on behalf of the Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Ms. Massandjé Touré-Litse explained that as the regional component of the programme is gathering momentum, the Commission deems it necessary to convene this virtual meeting to sensitise the stakeholders with identification management-related functions in the ECOWAS region about the WURI programme and equally provide a platform for the WURI participating Member States to share their experiences in the implementation of their respective projects. He encouraged the Member States to learn more about the programme and highlighted that the beauty of the programme lies in its flexibility as other countries can join when they are ready and willing to subscribe to the regional objective of foundational systems interoperability and mutual recognition of foundational identity credentials for access to services.
The World Bank Director of Regional Integration, Africa and Middle East and North Africa, Ms. Boutheina Guermazi expressed the Bank’s appreciation to the ECOWAS Commission for creating the platform for learning how the WURI programme is being implemented in the pilot countries. She noted that the programme has a continental perspective and adopts a regional view, thus its scope extends beyond the six (06) participating Member States. She also expressed confidence in the political will of the participating Member States and the countries capabilities to achieve the set targets, before reiterating the Bank’s continued and constant support to ensure the successful implementation of the programme for the benefit of all.
The World Bank presented the overview of the WURI programme which covered the programme development objective, the multiphase approach adopted to reach an estimated 100 million persons in the region by 2028 amongst others whilst the Commission explained its role, the regional objectives of cross-border interoperability and mutual recognition of credentials, the prioritised activities for 2022 and the achievements thus far.
The experience sharing by Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, and Togo indicated that the programme implementing Member States are at varied stages of implementation and each has its own challenges. However, the countries highlighted key milestones achieved which they expect will be a stepping stone to boost implementation. The submissions made by the Member States during the deliberation session will be taken into consideration in the course of the programme implementation.
The WURI is a multi-phase programme financed by the World Bank and implemented by Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and Togo, and the ECOWAS Commission, with the objective to increase the number of persons in participating countries who have government-recognized proof of unique identity that enables access to services. Specifically, the Commission aims to foster regional dialogues and cooperation for cross-border mutual recognition of foundational identity systems for access to services.