ACCRA, Ghana – The first national electronic police information system for West African countries has been launched in Ghana by INTERPOL, in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and with funding by the European Union (EU).
The West African Police Information System (WAPIS) facilitates the collection, centralization, management, sharing and analysis of police information from national law enforcement agencies.
Attended by senior officials from Benin, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, ECOWAS, the European Union and INTERPOL, the launch ceremony was an opportunity to take stock of the WAPIS Programme’s achievements to date in the four pilot countries: Benin, Ghana, Mali and Niger.
Ghana’s Minister for the Interior Mark Owen Woyongo said: "The full implementation of the WAPIS Programme will support the efforts of national authorities and ECOWAS in improving the security of citizens in West Africa and around the world."
As in each of the participating countries, Ghana’s police information system is installed within a national Data Collection and Registration Centre (DACORE), renamed WAPIS Data Centre. It was inaugurated in Accra along with the launch of the national WAPIS system.
“The Ghana Police Service has adopted a technology-driven strategy to address today’s law enforcement challenges. We have no doubt that a fully implemented WAPIS will allow greater responsiveness to crimes in the sub-region and beyond," said Ghana’s Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan.
The WAPIS Programme’s third phase will see its implementation in all ECOWAS member states and the development of a regional police data sharing platform under the aegis of ECOWAS.
ECOWAS Vice President Toga Geyewya McIntosh underlined how “the WAPIS Programme was launched to address one of the main areas of weakness in managing transnational organized criminality in our region, inaccurate statistics and data on reported criminality.”
The EU Head of Delegation in Accra, Ambassador William Hanna, called on all the concerned national authorities in West Africa to “swiftly endorse the WAPIS system and further develop it, stressing that it is an essential tool for police authorities against criminal networks”.
At national level, the WAPIS Programme enables participating countries to convert existing paper-based police data to a digital format so it can be inserted, together with new police data, into the national WAPIS system and easily shared among law enforcement agencies.
Sebastian Haitota Ndeitunga, Vice President for Africa on INTERPOL’s Executive Committee, said "The WAPIS Programme works towards bringing West African law enforcement closer together to help bring about enhanced security across the region."
The initiative to create a police information system for West Africa stemmed from a 2010 meeting of West African Police Chiefs, who expressed their concern over West Africa becoming a crime hub for drug trafficking, human smuggling and terrorism.
After a successful implementation of the programme in the four pilot countries, the upcoming General Annual Assembly of the Western African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) is expected to endorse the full roll-out of the WAPIS Programme in all 15 ECOWAS Member States.