TICAD 7: WCO highlights Customs’ role in the development of Africa

02 September 2019

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the TICAD 7 - Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development - held in Yokohama, Japan from 28 to 30 August 2019 to speak about Customs’ contributions to the sustainable development of Africa.

TICAD 7, led by Japan and co-hosted by the United Nations (UN), the African Union Commission and the World Bank, brought together a wide range of representatives from 54 African countries, including 42 Heads of State/Government, over 30 Heads of International/Regional Organizations and numerous business leaders.

The first plenary session was opened by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in his capacity as President of the African Union, and UN Secretary General António Guterres, along with other co-hosts. The plenary session tackled the theme of "Accelerating Economic Transformation and Improving Business Environment through Innovation and Private Sector Engagement", under the co-chairmanship of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan. Secretary General Mikuriya was asked to provide input to this session and spoke about Customs’ role in facilitating trade in support of regional integration, including the recently enacted African Continental Free trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and in contributing to human security to protect citizens from illicit trade and illegal financial flows. 

In support of the Customs’ tasks described above, Secretary General Mikuriya explained that the WCO promoted SMART Borders equipped with technology and innovation to manage risks at borders, stressing the importance of addressing human resource development and governance issues to enable border agencies to develop sound partnerships with the private sector. He reiterated the significance of government support for Customs to ensure an adequate legal framework and necessary resources as the critical soft infrastructure for improving the business environment. President Ramaphosa brought the session to a close by gathering input from dozens of Heads of State/Government as well as from the WCO to identify the components required to reach a conclusion on the theme. He expressed particular appreciation for the WCO’s intervention, which highlighted the need to rationalize Customs and tackle illicit trade as part of the efforts towards the sustainable development of Africa.

On 27 August, Secretary General Mikuriya spoke at the TICAD 7 side event on "Enhancement of the Connectivity in Africa", organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), together with Mr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) CEO, Mr. Paul Koffi Koffi, Commissioner of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), Mr. Khaled Sherif, Vice-President of the African Development Bank, and Mr. Hiroshi Kato, Senior Vice-President of JICA. Dr. Mikuriya explained the importance of regional integration and cooperation with respect to border facilities and transactions, highlighting the WCO's collaboration with the above institutions in supporting Customs in various corridor projects with an emphasis on technical and human resource development.

Secretary General Mikuriya also attended a meeting between Mr. Taro Kono, Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and 30 Heads of International Organizations present at the TICAD 7. The Heads of each of these Organizations, including Dr. Mikuriya, explained how they were contributing towards the development of Africa. 

The TICAD 7 adopted the Yokohama Declaration whereby Heads of State/Government vowed to strive towards a free, fair and transparent investment environment as well as to step up training programmes for young people and women in Africa.

Dr. Mikuriya took the opportunity to meet with Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Taro Aso, and also to have a meeting with the Japan Customs Management Team. In addition, he visited the Customs Intelligence Centre and observed how passengers were selected for inspections based on the Advance Passenger Information (API)/Passenger Name Record (PNR) system and other information. He also gave a special lecture on the past and future of data analysis in the Customs context.