By Landing Ceesay
The Ambassador of Japan to the Gambia, His Excellency Osamu Izawa, visited the Gambia Immigration Department’s (GID) Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) on May 17, 2023. The Japanese Ambassador was hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the GID.
The Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) is a high-quality, user-friendly, and fully customizable border management information system (BMIS) for states in need of a cost-effective and comprehensive solution. MIDAS is currently operational in countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It has been designed to be compliant with international standards and has the capability to collect, process, store, and analyze traveler information in real time across an entire border network.
The project aims to help the Government of The Gambia (GoTG) improve its ability to manage its borders and respond to the health crisis and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.
Shortly after the tour, Mr. Seedy Touray, Director General of the Gambia Immigration Department (GID), expressed his profound gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to receive the Japanese Ambassador at the Migration Scientific Lab housed in the Immigration Training School at Tanji.
DG Touray said the Gambia Immigration Department (GID) and the People’s Republic of Japan began their relationship in 2019 through the Japanese Embassy in Dakar.
“This was the period that his predecessor visited the Gambia, and we were able to avail him copies of our five-year strategic plan, as well as the comprehensive border assessment report that was jointly conducted by IOM and the government of the Gambia through GID and other international partners. Now, part of the comprehensive border assessment report recognized 100 recommendations that were identified as our real border challenges in this country.
“When you look at some of those, you also realize that you know the acquisition of the MIDAS System, which is the Migration Information Data Analysis System, was very, very, very necessary. I am happy to report also that through this funding, we can have the MIDAS System in seven of our strategic Land Border entry points, namely Amdalai, Giboro, Farafenni, Misera, Sabi, and then, plans are at a very advanced stage also to have one installed at Darsillami in the West Coast Region (WCR),” DG Touray said.
The Director-General of the Gambia Immigration Department (GID) disclosed that the days of sending documents received from Banjul International Airport to Western Embassies in the country or sometimes to Dakar, Senegal for verification are over.
Touray said that the MIDAS System has helped the GID to detect a number of fraudulent documents, and that a number of people have been arrested in connection with these documents. However, he declined to disclose the number of people who have been arrested, citing national security concerns.
“But now with the acquisition of this system here, it can be able to capture real information not only on travellers but also to detect fraudulent documents. This is really helping us with the control measures that we have at Banjul International Airport as well as our land frontiers,” he told Journalists.
Japan’s Ambassador H.E Osamu Izawa said that his country’s government supports the Gambia’s economic development, but they realize that stability and safety are essential for economic development to occur.
Ambassador Izawa said Gambia’s economic development lies in the stability and safety of the borders.
“So, this is important to our cooperation for an enhancement of border control. So, from this point of view, the Japanese government provided three assistances to the Gambia. The first assistance amounted to, as far as I remember, $700,000 and the second assistance was around $3 million.
“So, through these corporations The Gambian authority procured, for example, speed board, MIDAS System, Training Center, and other support. So, this is a huge contribution from the Japanese Government to the Gambia. Because these facilities and the GID and the Gambian government can enhance border control dramatically, which contributes to the stability and safety of the country. So, this is a very important cooperation,” Ambassador Izawa told the Journalists.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Foday Gassama, Leader of the Unit responsible for the MIDAS System at the Borders, described the system as effective and efficient.
“The MIDAS System is very effective for us. Because it facilitates our work in a way and manner which is very effective and efficient. The system is able to collect data automatically once somebody’s ID or Passport that has the Machine-Readable Zone (MRZ). If the document has MRZ and the system is able to read the information in it, captured digitally and stored.
“Now what you need is to take a photograph of the person and a fingerprint. Because the system does not only take biographic information but also biometric information. This is very important in terms of security. If you are collecting and storing people’s biometric information, it is very difficult for them to be able to come into the country with fraudulent documents,” Commissioner Gassama said.
MIDAS is a border management system that automatically checks all recorded entry and exit data against national and INTERPOL alert lists. This helps to ensure that people attempting to cross the border do not pose a threat to national or international security and are not using stolen or lost travel documents.
MIDAS can also be used to assist with managing in-country immigration and migration functions such as the recording and management of cases and the issuance of residence, employment, and other types of permits