At the invitation of Mr. Papa Ousmane Gueye, Director General of Senegalese Customs, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 22nd Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa region, held in Dakar (Senegal) from 26 to 28 April 2017. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Amadou Coulibaly, Acting Director General of Côte d’Ivoire Customs, the current Vice-Chair for the West and Central Africa region.
Mr. Amadou Ba, Senegal’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning, welcomed participants on behalf of the President and Government of Senegal. He recognized the important role of Customs in responding to many of the challenges currently facing States in the region, including collection of revenue, combating terrorism, securing the international supply chain, the growth of e-commerce, trade facilitation, development of partnerships, and the future introduction of a continent-wide free trade area in Africa. He also emphasized the importance of IT as a means of increasing effectiveness, inter alia in facilitating legitimate trade and detecting and combating illicit activity. In that regard, he welcomed the WCO theme for 2017 - Data analysis for effective border management.
Secretary General Mikuriya presented the current key priorities of the WCO: trade facilitation following the entry into force of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation where the Revised Kyoto Convention was a key implementation tool; e-commerce and the response of Customs to ensure appropriate levels of facilitation and compliance, as well as the collection of revenue; security and the role of Customs in combating terrorism; Customs-tax cooperation; and illicit financial flows where the WCO had been mandated by the G20 to contribute to its work on this issue.
The meeting endorsed these priorities which would be to the fore of the discussions at the upcoming Policy Commission and Council sessions.
The Secretary General also provided details of upcoming WCO events including the Origin, IT and Transit Conferences, as well as the Knowledge Academy.
In the course of the Conference, delegates heard a number of reports on the activities undertaken in the region over the past year and those planned for the coming months. In addition, there was particular focus during the Conference on:
- The developments, challenges and experiences in respect of the re-appropriation by Customs administrations of Customs functions previously assigned to inspection companies.
- Progress with the interconnection of transit systems in the region including through the regional groupings, particularly ECOWAS. In this connection, the Secretary General urged Members of the region to attend the Global Transit Conference which would be held at WCO Headquarters immediately after the Council sessions in July.
- Progress achieved with the "Sécurité par Collaboration (SPC++)" project aimed at combating growing insecurity in the region, the project being led by Nigeria and primarily involving the countries in the Lake Chad area.
The region took the following decisions regarding its representation on various WCO working bodies for the next financial year: Policy Commission - Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria; Finance Committee – Gambia; Audit Committee - Gabon and Togo.
The Secretary General expressed his appreciation to the Vice-Chair for the conduct of a successful meeting and his special thanks to the Senegalese Customs Administration for the warm welcome extended to delegates and for the excellent organization of the Conference.
After the conclusion of the Conference, the Secretary General and Heads of Delegation were received by Mr. Mohammed Dionne, Prime Minister of Senegal, who appreciated the importance of the work being carried out by Customs administrations and the WCO.