Launching of RILO Eastern and Southern Africa’s new Website to enhance communication and cooperation

20 July 2020

On 20 July 2020, at the invitation of the WCO Vice-Chair for East and Southern Africa (ESA) region, and the Commissioner General of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya joined other Directors General of Customs and officials of the region to observe the virtual launch of a new website for the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office Eastern and Southern Africa (RILO ESA).

The RILO ESA website is an initiative by the region in collaboration with Global Trade Solutions (GTS), South Africa, a private sector company that provides innovative solutions and consulting services to the international trade and supply chain community. The website has both public and private portals, and foreseen to complement the existing communication tools utilized by RILO ESA for collecting and analyzing data, and to share information to enhance customs enforcement.

In his opening speech, Secretary General Mikuriya praised the ESA region for being proactive and using this opportune time to develop the RILO’s website as an additional tool to enhance communication in the region. He emphasized the profound role of RILOs in fostering Customs cooperation through information gathering, analysis and intelligence sharing, and noted their importance in supporting Customs administrations at this challenging time of COVID-19 pandemic to combat illicit trading and prevent criminal organizations from exploiting the international trade supply chain. Dr. Mikuriya mentioned the crucial role played by RILOs in joining Member countries to support WCO “STOP” operation on medical goods and supplies. Secretary General Mikuriya encouraged the RILO ESA to use the website to enhance its regional enforcement network, share best practices and global trends on crimes, and continue to support the WCO global RILO network.

Ms. Faith Mazani, Commissioner General, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), and host of the RILO ESA, officially launched the RILO ESA Website: www.wcoesarilo.org and welcomed this event as a historic and prestigious milestone for the region. She reiterated the great value of websites as communication tools for the region in order to enhance its capacity to share intelligence and combat smuggling, which is endemic to the region. The launch was supported by a representative of GTS.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Philiso Valashia, WCO ESA regional Vice-Chair, and Commissioner Customs, Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), expressed his profound gratitude to GTS for the partnership and contribution to the region’s strategic goal of strengthening intra-regional compliance and enforcement. He emphasized that the website needed to be functional after being launched, and invited the region to meet this expectation. The Vice-Chair acknowledged the role of the WCO Secretariat in providing support and guidance to the RILO ESA and expressed his gratitude to the WCO Secretary General.

He concluded the launch by expressing his hope that the region will utilize the website to bring innovative solutions to meet the challenges posed by the actual global circumstances.