FREIGHT TRANSPORT: Africa: towards an interconnection of customs IT systems?

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    (Photo AIC press)


    Freight transport is organizing in Africa. Thus, most African countries have engaged since the beginning of the 2000s in the modernization of their trade procedures through the implementation of interconnection projects of their customs systems. These innovations, which aim to optimize the exchange of information on exports and transit between African countries, have been effective for some years now with the support of partners such as the World Bank, the EU, JICA and AfDB.


    Inter-country trade in Africa accounts for only 10% of all African trade, the lowest percentage of any region in the world, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) states in its 2002 annual report on integration in Africa. More than 80% of what is produced in Africa is exported, mainly to the European Union, China and the United States in 2017. DHL's Global Connectivity Index (ICM) has highlighted that Africa is the continent least connected with regards to ease of movement of people, trade, information and finance. Addressing this  intra-African trade weakness is a huge challenge, but policy makers on the continent are paying increasing attention, spurring renewed interest in regional integration. Thus, all African countries are now devoting part of their efforts to developing connectivity on the continent and establishing commercial relations. This can be seen through the implementation of interconnection projects for customs IT systems. To this end, since 2008, at the sub-regional level, ECOWAS customs have been working to interconnect their computer systems to improve customs automation, facilitate and secure the dispatch of goods and expedite  goods and service clearance.


    Towards a strengthening of the customs interconnection system in ECOWAS




    Despite unevenly developed digital systems in the Community, the member States are working to interconnect their their customs systems. According to Pope Ousmane Gueye, Director General of the Senegalese Customs, "It is up to each country to take charge of its own system, because there is not yet a dedicated ECOWAS line of credit to finance  the creation of an integrated global system. Some countries like Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire are quite advanced while others have just started their digitalization. We must first help them to equip themselves, to train executives before going towards the integration of the system". Despite this reality, the interconnection system is being set up in the sub-region.



    The World Bank supports Customs Interconnection Project between Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana


    Computerized customs declarations between Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana have been operational since the end of July 2017. This interconnection is part of the Trade and Transport Facilitation Project on the Abidjan-Lagos corridor. The first pilot phase of this interconnection project for Ivorian and Ghanaian customs administrations was launched late July 2017. Funded by the World Bank, this project aims to optimize the exchange of information relating to exports and transit between Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, two neighboring countries.


    Customs IT systems between Burkina Faso and Togo strengthen thanks to the Jica

      With the support of the Japanese Cooperation Agency, JICA, interconnecting customs IT systems between Burkina Faso and Togo is moving forward. In  January 2018, the Jica enabled Burkina Faso to acquire digital systems. Similar equipment should be received in Togo in the near future. To this end, 200 million CFA were mobilized for each country. This initiative is part of the vast project of interconnection of computer systems customs administrations UEMOA initiated in 2013 between Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali then extended to Senegal in 2014 and to Togo in 2016 under the supervision of the World Customs Organization (WCO).


    In Central Africa the fiber optic network project has been preparing the interconnection of customs systems since 2016



    Le synoptique d'interconnexions Régionales et nationales de la CEMAC.


    In Central Africa, the Interconnection of Customs Systems Project is part of a major program of transport facilitation in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) comprising six countries: Cameroon, the Congo, the Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic and Chad. This CEMAC customs interconnection project identified several transit corridors between the Member States.



    Initially, the two corridors (Cameroon-Central African Republic / Cameroon-Chad) served as pilot corridors to test the digitalization of customs transit before extending the system to others. With funding from the European Commission, CEMAC plans to interconnect the six member states of CEMAC and Sao Tome and Principe through the ASYCUDA system.


    The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the operational capacity of the customs administrations of CEMAC and Sao Tome and Principe member countries by automating customs procedures dealing with import, export and especially transit operations to international standards.

    The challenges of interconnecting customs IT systems for Africa

    "The challenge, which is decisive, is the security of the international logistics chain, one of whose aims is to stimulate international trade", Pape Ousmane Guèye explains. He believes that international customs networking aims to facilitate, stimulate, accelerate and secure trade across the globe. This is a change that gives new scope to cooperation between customs administrations of different countries in all areas: intelligence benchmarking, security and coordination of actions, among others.


    To sum up, the interconnection system will be used to facilitate the exchange of secured and reliable data exchange between customs administrations in the context of goods transit operations, tracking the journey of vehicles and goods along the corridors and finally, establishing reliable statistics on the transit of goods. The development of international trade in general and freight transport in Africa in particular requires the ownership of this innovation.






    AUTEUR : Aurélie KOUASSI

    STATUT : Web journaliste

    DATE DE PARUTION : 27-02-2018

    TYPE : Dossier

    N° :  01-2018