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West & Central Africa: Meeting of Experts

04 February 2015

The 13th Meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa (WCA) Region was held at Roméo Golf, Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), from 21 to 23January 2015.

The Meeting was attended by eighteen (18) of the Region’s twenty-three (23) Member administrations, the Vice-Chair, the WCO Secretariat, the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB), the Ouagadougou, Brazzaville and Abuja Regional Training Centres (RTC), the Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices for West Africa and Central Africa (RILO-WA and RILO-CA) and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

Mr. Deo Rugwiza Magera, Director General of Customs and Excise of the DRC, presided over the opening ceremony.

The meeting was chaired jointly by the representative of the Vice-Chair (Cameroon) and the WCO Regional Co-ordinator.

The main points addressed included, inter alia, a briefing on the WCO Mercator Programme, a report outlining the accomplishment of all the recommendations of the 19th Conference of Directors General of Customs held in Yaoundé (Cameroon) and several presentations following the WCO theme for 2015 launched on 26 January (International Customs Day) under the motto "Coordinated Border Management – An inclusive approach for connecting stakeholders".

A key outcome from the meeting was an agreed approach to take donor coordination in the region further, comprising of three core components. The components are (i) participation (institutions to be invited), (ii) sponsorship of a conference venue and (iii) projects to present to funding agencies. For the latter component, a committee was appointed under the aegis of the Vice-Chair to identify priority projects.

Participants tackled a number of difficult topics and subsequent discussions resulted in some key recommendations. These included progressing the Niamey Declaration goals, taking the lead on implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (including mobilization under the WCO Mercator Programme) and stepping up efforts to work together by exchanging information to combat cross-border crime effectively and address epidemiological challenges such as Ebola.

The meeting was both informative and productive.