The computers and the accessories were handed over to the beneficiaries during a high powered delegation nationwide visit to all the 7 border posts headed by the ECOWAS representative to The Gambia Vabah K. Gayflor.
The 7 official border posts that benefited from the head of ECOWAS Commission's goodwill gesture include: Amdalai, Kerr Ali both in the North Bank Region. Sabi Border Post in the Upper River Region. Misira in the Lower River Region and Jiboro, Darsilameh and Kartong in the West Coast Region.
The donation came after border visits conducted by the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia and the ECOWAS Ambassadors Solidarity Forum in the Gambia (EASOFIG) in 2018 and 2019 when border officials lamented their challenges, especially insufficient computers for data collection and management.
On this backdrop, the ECOWAS Mission in a joint initiative with EASOFIG intervened by purchasing the much needed equipment, hoping it will enhance data collection, processing and management.
In her overriding message in all speeches during the tour, the ECOWAS Ambassador to the Gambia Vabah K. Gayflor, emphasised the commitment of the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean Kassi Brou to border security which will enhance the free movement of people, goods and services per the ECOWAS protocol.
Appealing to the ECOWAS President Kassi Brou about the challenges of the border posts, she said, "...after the president came, we explained it to him and he understood and he approved because you know even if we have the money once it’s a donation, we cannot spend it until the president of the ECOWAS Commission approves it and he understood."
She said under normal circumstances, they would have gone to the director of Trade and Free Movement for the immigration officers at the border posts to benefit from that initiative "but because we told him how critical the situation is, he understood and gave special permission to us to do this that we are doing today," she said.
"So this is just to express to you that the president of the ECOWAS Commission is highly committed to all of you and he has sent his best regards to you and he hopes that all of this can help to improve your work."
The chairlady of the ECOWAS Ambassadors Solidarity Forum in The Gambia (EASOFIG) and the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to The Gambia, Lucritia Marian Shereef, said the day marked a fullfiment of a promise they made to the officers during their previous visits, adding that the gesture is an all African effort without assistance from outside the continent.
"You have lots of piles of paper; sometimes those papers can get missing in action. Because of that, we have brought these computers so that instead of dealing with paper now, you can put all what you have on paper into the computers and store them.
"But it would have been a white elephant if we only came and give you the computers and left you on your own to fend the accessories that go with them.
"So we at the EASOFIG decided as our committee to buy the accessories."
The Commissioner of Immigration Aboucarr Janneh, who traveled with the delegation on behalf of the director general of Immigration expressed his delight over the gesture and promised the equipment would be an added value to their work.
"We are delighted to receive these gifts from you and on behalf of the director general of Immigration and the entire immigration, we would like to thank you for the good gesture," he said. "Be assured that the donation will be put to good use."
"The computers will enhance data collection and will be very useful."
Meanwhile the National Assembly Member for Sandu, who represented the National Assembly praised the security officers at the various border posts for their efforts.
He reminded the officers of the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement, while appealing to them to be more accommodating and tolerant to visitors in the country so they could feel at home.
The governors of Lower River and Upper River regions Rohey John Manjang and Samba Bah respectively both assured the delegation of their regions’ commitment to the free movement of people, goods and services.
A couple of border posts in The Gambia still enter on the in and outflow of people manually which could be time consuming and vulnerable to missing information and accuracy.
It is hoped that the computers and accessories would strengthen immigration's efforts at collecting and managing data for other developmental purposes but most importantly for border security.