The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), established by the Treaty of Lagos in 1975, comprising 15 members, has revealed its plans to launch a biometric identity card scheme for internal travel in 2016.

After considering the report of regional heads of immigration services on the use of the new identity card, the ministers have endorsed the scheme for approval of the Authority of Heads of State and Government slated to meet in the Nigerian capital on 14-15 December 2014.

The scheme, which was disclosed in the communiqué at the end of the 73rd Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, will replace the prevailing travel certificate ensuring unfettered movement of citizens from member nations of the community.

The new biometric card will be circulated alongside the National Identity Card in each member states until the new document is institutionalized.

Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, president of ECOWAS Commission, said: "The ECOWAS region continues to be Africa’s most dynamic regional economic community, with expected growth rate of 6.3 percent in 2014, with Côte d’Ivoire expected to record the highest growth rate of 9.1 per cent in the region."

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