West and Central Africa region shares good use of technology and best practice for South-South cooperation

19 marzo 2012

Cotonou, 15-16 March 2012

Report

At the invitation of Comptroller General Abdullahi Dikko of Nigeria Customs in his capacity as Regional Vice-Chair, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya participated in the Conference of Directors General of Customs in the WCO West and Central Africa region that was held in Cotonou, Benin on 15 and 16 March 2012.

The Conference was opened by Benin’s Minister of Economy and Finance Adidjatou Mathys. Directors General reviewed and adopted recommendations on a number of strategic issues, including the focus areas of capacity building and the regional structure as well as its funding. The recommendations had been drawn up by the preparatory meeting of experts that was held from 12-14 March 2012.

The Directors General appreciated the regional coaching programme for sharing best practice in Customs reform in the region, administered by the ROCB. Presentations on the use of technology, including Senegal's paperless Gainde system and Benin's Single Window system, attracted interest and questions from participants. Directors General also appreciated and encouraged continuation of WCO work on the Revenue Package and advocacy of Customs to political leaders.

Responding to the concerns expressed regarding preshipment and destination inspection services that are widespread in the region, Secretary General Mikuriya clarified the WCO policy in this regard, stating that these programmes should be seen as temporary measures, adding that where a government has decided to engage such a service, Customs should work with the inspection companies to strengthen Customs’ capacity to conduct revenue functions and develop a strategy to terminate existing contracts at the earliest opportunity. He stressed that this requires Customs to focus on modernization and the development of partnerships with business based on trust.

The Conference unanimously re-elected Nigeria as Vice-Chair, recognizing its excellent work.

Directors General were received by President Yayi Boni and Prime Minister Pascal Koupaki, both of whom underlined the importance of Customs modernization for the country and the region, assuring them of their full political support.

Participants appreciated the good organization and warm hospitality of Director General Theophile Soussia of Benin Customs and his Customs team.