ECOWAS Strengthens Its Security Architecture With The Inauguration Of The Wapis Centre In Gambia.

ECOWAS Strengthens Its Security Architecture With The Inauguration Of The Wapis Centre In Gambia.

The government of the Gambia represented by its Minister of Interior Mr. Yankuba Sonko, has inaugurated the West African Police Information System (WAPIS) Data Collection and Registration Centre on 14 October 2021 at the Joint Operation Center in Banjul.

This ceremony was also attended by the Economic Community of West African States Commission (ECOWAS) Special Representative in the Gambia, the Ambassador of European Union Delegation in Banjul as well as the Head of WAPIS Programme and various Law enforcement officials and Ambassadors from ECOWAS Member States based in the Gambia.

The WAPIS Centre is a Data Collection and Registration Centre that will be responsible for the operationalization of the WAPIS System in the Gambia. The Data Collection and Registration center will serve as a catalyst for security integration and interagency collaboration in the country, by bringing together all the security apparatus into the process of collection, storage and sharing of criminal data at national, regional and global level respectively. The center will promote the sharing of criminal data in a real time. Thereby supporting the investigation of major crimes and the frontline officers in dealing with the movement of persons and goods at the border crossing points.

Funded by the European Union under the aegis of the ECOWAS Commission, the WAPIS Programme will see the creation of national police data systems in each ECOWAS Member States, Mauritania and Chad together with the development of a regional platform for stronger police data exchange.

Opening the Inauguration ceremony, the Inspector of Police Mr. Abdoulie Sanyang, Esq “Assured the participants that the effective functioning of the WAPIS system is high among the priorities for the Gambia Police Force and that all partners are assured of the organization’s unwavering commitment in this regard.

Recognizing the political and operational involvement of the Gambian government, the Head of the WAPIS Programme, Mr. Richard Gotwe thanked the participants for honoring the invitation and stated that INTERPOL will increase the number of WAPIS workstations both in the WAPIS Center and in the whole network of police stations in the country in order to use it at its maximum potential. He outlined the actions envisaged by the WAPIS Programme as follows: the connection of the I-24/7 secure global police communication system, which will allow the Gambia Law Enforcement outfits working with the WAPIS System to check in real-time, world-wide police data hosted by INTERPOL.

In the same vain, the EU Ambassador Mr. Corrado Pampaloni, stressed that. “The WAPIS database can truly help to improve the security situation in The Gambia and should be a priority of the National Security Strategy. He encouraged the authorities to:

  • Take steps to ensure that personnel trained to use WAPIS remain in post for at least three years;
  • Make the use of WAPIS mandatory so that it is quickly adopted nationwide;
  • Allocate a budget heading for running the DACORE and the WAPIS System by the start of 2022 at the latest.
  • Implement the communication plan in order to cultivate the national buy-in and sustainability of the system.

The ECOWAS Special Representative to the Gambia Mrs. Vabah K Gayflor, maintained that with the WAPIS Data Collection and Registration Center-DACORE, the Gambia Law Enforcement agencies will now make maximum utilization of the relevant qualitative and quantitative data to effectively and efficiently address the fundamental issues that undermine human security in the country. She concluded by stating that no nation thrives in prosperity and development with the absence of peace, security and stability.

Concluding the remarks, the Minister of Interior noted that the WAPIS Programme is timely as it will immensely boost the efforts of regional and global security cooperation against insecurity caused by threats from the transnational organized criminal networks including maritime crimes like piracy and other illicit activities at sea off the coast of West Africa and more extensively the Gulf of Guinea. He stressed the importance of the programme to his Ministry and by extension the Gambia cannot be overemphasized.

In the framework of the WAPIS Programme, six (06) training sessions on the use of the System were already organized and 72 persons trained from the participating agencies, these were followed by the deployment and installation of forty (40) workstations in the capital area at the premises of the various law enforcement agencies, including Police, Immigration,   and the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA).

The Gambia is one of the new beneficiary’ countries in which the WAPIS Programme is being implemented as part of its 3rd phase since November 2017. The memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Gambian Government and INTERPOL was signed on the 19 January 2019. The Gambia Centre is the 8th operational WAPIS Data center in West Africa after Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Nigeria. More inaugurations are planned in the coming months in the remaining countries

Requested by the ECOWAS Chiefs of Police in 2010, The WAPIS Programme aims to address the security challenges faced by West African countries by enabling effective collection of police information through a centralized national system and by providing the opportunity to share information collected pursuing the following objectives:

  • At the national level, the aim is to establish a centralized system of police information to facilitate the collection, processing and analysis of police data from different national law enforcement agencies.
  • At the regional level, the aim of the system is to establish, under the aegis of ECOWAS Commission, a platform for the electronic exchange of police information with a view to facilitate the sharing of data between Member States and Mauritania within the framework of regional cooperation protocols by 2022.
  • At the international level, beneficiary countries will have the opportunity to exchange police data via the INTERPOL I-24/7 secure communication system.

The fifteen (15) ECOWAS countries benefiting from INTERPOL’s WAPIS Programme are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Two none ECOWAS countries, Mauritania and Chad are also covered by the WAPIS Programme.

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