Fostering cross-border mobility


A Comprehensive Examination of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme and National Bureaus.

Through dynamic and vibrant leadership, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Brown Card Scheme in contemporary times, has been making substantial strides in advancing regional integration, and at the heart of this integration lies the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme. This scheme is a critical enabler for cross-border mobility and ensures financial protection for road travelers within the ECOWAS member states. This article delves into the complexities of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme and investigates the pivotal role played by the National Bureaus (14 Member States) in its implementation.

The ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme represents a regional initiative aimed at harmonizing motor vehicle insurance requirements throughout member states. Its primary objective is to provide coverage for third-party liability insurance to individuals embarking on cross-border journeys within the ECOWAS region.

The scheme guarantees that road users are safeguarded in case of accidents and that victims are swiftly compensated. In this feature, the Author has named and has described in simple terms a few Notable Aspects of the Brown Card Insurance Scheme:

  1. Seamless Cross-Border Protection:

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Brown Card Insurance Scheme is its capacity to provide seamless protection across borders. When a vehicle is insured under the scheme in one ECOWAS member state, the coverage extends to the entire region. This eliminates the need for multiple insurance policies when traveling between member states, simplifying the process for individuals and businesses engaged in cross-border activities.

  1. Standardized Coverage:

The scheme establishes uniform insurance requirements across ECOWAS member states, ensuring that the minimum coverage and compensation levels are consistent. This standardization promotes fairness and equity, preventing disparities in compensation for victims of accidents involving vehicles from different member states.

  1. Enhanced Road Safety:

By mandating third-party liability insurance, the Brown Card Insurance Scheme promotes responsible driving and a culture of accountability among road users. This, in turn, contributes to improved road safety throughout the ECOWAS region.

The National Bureaus: The Backbone of the Scheme

The success of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme hinges significantly on the efficient functioning of the National Bureaus. These bureaus, numbering 14 to correspond with the member states, shoulder two primary responsibilities that are crucial to the scheme’s operation:

  1. Issuance of Brown Cards:

National Bureaus are responsible for issuing Brown Cards to their member National Bureaus. These cards serve as evidence of valid insurance coverage and are essential for cross-border travel. The timely issuance of Brown Cards is vital in ensuring the uninterrupted flow of traffic between member states.

  1. Claims Handling:

National Bureaus also play a central role in managing claims that arise within their territories on behalf of other National Bureaus. When accidents occur involving vehicles insured under the Brown Card scheme, the National Bureaus facilitate the claims process, ensuring that victims receive fair and timely compensation. This mechanism promotes trust and cooperation among member states and contributes to the scheme’s overall effectiveness.

The Case of the Ghana Bureau

The ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme is an insurance mechanism that facilitates the free movement of vehicles and their occupants within member countries in West Africa. It provides insurance coverage against third-party liabilities that visitors might incur while driving across national borders within the ECOWAS region.

Chronological history and key points of the Ecowas Brown Card Scheme in Ghana:

1975: The ECOWAS Treaty was signed, creating ECOWAS as a regional economic union.

1982: The ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme was instituted under Protocol A/PI/5/82, intending to ensure that victims of road accidents do not suffer from difficulties in obtaining compensation when accidents occur outside their country of residence within the sub-region.

1987: The Ghana National Bureau of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme was registered on June 1 as a Company Limited by Guarantee, by the Companies Act of 1963. This served to operationalize the Brown Card Scheme in Ghana.

From 1987 to 2004: The Bureau was managed by the State Insurance Company Limited, fulfilling the requirements of the Protocol that established the Scheme.

2004: As the State Insurance Company Limited underwent privatization, the need arose for an independent body to manage the Bureau. Thus, it was attached to the Ghana Insurers Association, leading to a Joint Secretariat that managed the Bureau from 2004 to 2009.

2009: The arrangement with the Ghana Insurers Association expired in December, and subsequent measures were taken to establish the Ghana National Bureau as an independent entity.

Post-2009: The Bureau has been operating independently governed by a Board of Directors and following its Constitution.

The Scheme has been integral in facilitating trade and transportation among ECOWAS member states and ensuring that cross-border motorists have the necessary insurance coverage, reflecting the broader goals of ECOWAS to create a harmonized economic space within West Africa. In addition to the roles they play within the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme, National Bureaus also serve as accessible points of contact for individuals and businesses seeking information and assistance related to cross-border insurance. This accessibility is crucial in promoting client access and ensuring that all stakeholders can benefit from the scheme’s protections.


The ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme, coupled with the diligent work of National Bureaus, exemplifies the region’s commitment to fostering cross-border mobility and ensuring the well-being of road travelers. Through standardized coverage, enhanced road safety, and efficient claims management, the scheme contributes to the harmonious integration of ECOWAS member states. As the region continues to evolve, the Brown Card Insurance Scheme remains a testament to the collaborative spirit of ECOWAS in building a brighter, more interconnected future.

About the Author:

The Author is the Secretary-General of the Council of Bureaux of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance scheme headquartered in Lome, Togo. Until his appointment, Mr Dodzih was the Head of Technical (Non-Life Insurance) of the Ghana Insurers Association (GIA). Before joining the GIA, he was the Head of Sales and Marketing at SIC Insurance Company. He had a stint with Phoenix Insurance as the deputy head of Sales and Marketing before joining multinational, Metropolitan Life Insurance, as Head of Retail Marketing.

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