Meeting of the WCO East and Southern Africa region

23 May 2011

Meeting of the WCO East and Southern Africa region

Mauritius, 19-20 May 2011

Report

At the invitation of the Vice Chair for the WCO East and Southern Africa (ESA) region, Commissioner Richard Kamajugo of Uganda Customs, the Secretary General of the WCO Kunio Mikuriya attended the meeting of the region's Governing Council in Mauritius from 19-20 May 2011.

Hosted by the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA), the Governing Council adopted a new regional action plan and agreed to nominate Mauritius as the region’s Vice Chair, Kenya and South Africa as its additional representatives on the Policy Commission, Uganda as its representative on the Finance Committee, and Tanzania to represent the region on the Audit Committee. The regional action plan includes ambitious capacity building (CB) activities with an emphasis on developing a regional pool of experts.

Participants explored the synergy with regional economic communities (RECs), including COMESA, the EAC and SADC, which have launched negotiations on a tripartite free trade agreement. As RECs are delivering CB based on WCO standards, they agreed to request RECs to follow up the implementation of WCO instruments in conjunction with the ROCB – Regional Office for Capacity Building – in Kenya. They also scheduled a regional CB conference including a regional version of the WCO PICARD Programme as well as a regional donor engagement conference; RECs would be involved in both events.

The Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development in Mauritius opened the meeting, supplemented by welcoming words from MRA Director General Sudhamo Lal and his Director of Customs Stephen Mendes. The MRA is eager to promote professionalism by providing good working conditions for its staff, evidenced by the opening of a new Customs House in February. It is also keen to use technology, including the WCO nCEN pilot project, to simplify procedures while enhancing MRA’s control capabilities.