Introduction of criminal Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) in West African countries

Donor: European Union
Timeframe: 2022-2024
Budget: EUR 15 million


As part of the West Africa Police Information System (WAPIS) Programme, this project aims to strengthen or introduce a criminal Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) in participating countries.


Identifying offenders on the basis of tangible physical evidence is a vital step in the criminal justice process. Fingerprints and palm prints are proven investigative techniques.

Fingerprint databases such as the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) have the potential to solve and link cases together or identify a person.

This potential can be reached only if the database is fed with high quality data and the technical standards of the entire forensic chain are scrupulously observed: from fingerprint enrollment to latent traces collection at the crime scene, fingermark development in laboratory, and the use of AFIS.

WAPIS/AFIS Project will help countries in West Africa make the shift from a manual to an automated fingerprint identification system and strengthen the forensic chain. This will enable law enforcement agencies to identify more criminals, prevent and reduce crime, and enhance security in the region and beyond.



WAPIS/AFIS Project aims to have a positive and long-term impact by:

  • enabling the change of approach in criminal investigations based on proven scientific evidence;
  • reducing data processing times and revealing connections that could otherwise go unnoticed;
  • improving the quantity and quality of data and increasing police efficiency in solving cases;
  • directly linking the AFIS infrastructure to the national WAPIS Systems;
  • introducing the INTERPOL ANSI/NIST INT-I standard for sharing biometric data to help improve police cooperation within region, in ECOWAS countries and Mauritania;
  • improving cooperation between law enforcement agencies of West African countries and the global community, in particular, via a global Biometric Hub in 2023 ;
  • assisting countries in setting up a legal framework to regulate the use of fingerprints in criminal proceedings and the use of an AFIS database.

The AFIS Project is a key element of the WAPIS Programme and opens the way to new and more innovative technologies. The use of fingerprinting is a first step and must be followed in future by other technologies such as DNA and facial recognition, among others.

Project stakeholders

The WAPIS/AFIS Project is implemented in West Africa. It is funded by the European Union, under the political guidance of ECOWAS and implemented by INTERPOL with the support of CIVIPOL.

Related documents