ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Ms. Massandjé Toure-Litse has pledged her unflinching support to ensure the proper execution of the West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI) project for the benefit of all stakeholders in the region.

She made the expression during a courtesy visit by the staff of the West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI) Project Implementing Unit (PIU) on Monday 25 July 2022.

Ms. Massandjé while commending the staff for their commitment applauds the Director for Free Movement who doubles as the WURI Project Coordinator, Mr. Albert Siaw-Boateng, for briefing her on the goal and objectives of the project, as well as the key activities for the year 2022.

Thus remained resolute that with the Galant team in the PIU, the WURI project will meet its set objectives.

In a statement signed by the ECOWAS Communications Officer, Salett Nogueira said ‘The WURI project is a World Bank-financed project aiming to implement a multiphase program with an overall Programme Development Objective (PrDO) of increasing the number of persons in participating Member States who have government-recognized proof of unique identity that facilitates their access to services. The program relies on the ECOWAS Protocol of Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence, and Right of Establishment and is designed in two phases with a combined financing envelope of USD395.1 million. Phase 1 which covers Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and the Commission was approved by the International Development Association (IDA) on 31st May 2018 and is expected to close on 3rd July 2024. Phase 2 which covers Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Togo was approved on 28th April 2020 and has an expected closing date of 30th July 2026. The whole program is expected to close on 3rd July 2028.

The IDA, through the World Bank, provided a US$ 5 million grant to the ECOWAS Commission within phase 1 to enhance and foster inter-agency collaboration and strengthen engagement across the ECOWAS Member States through the facilitation of regional dialogue for mutual recognition of foundational identity (fID) systems that enables access to services.

Overall, the program targets to provide a Unique Identification (UNI) to about 100 million people by 2028 – that is about 27 percent of the population in the ECOWAS region. The rationale behind this project is that (1) about 53 percent of the ECOWAS region’s population are unregistered and do not have proof of identification despite the high level of intra-regional mobility estimated at 70 percent of the population; and (2) the lack of identification limits people’s access to critical services and hinders them becoming full members of the society. Identification is an important tool and is a key enabler for eradicating poverty and for achieving a broad range of development outcomes.”

However, the project is aligned with the ECOWAS Vision 2050, on its Economic Integration and Interconnectivity, Transformation, Inclusive and Sustainable Development, and Social Inclusion, thus Targeting 16.9 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which recognized the centrality of proof of identification in assuring an inclusive world: to “provide legal identity for all, including birth registration” by 2030

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