First joint celebration of International Customs Day by ECCAS Member States in Libreville, Gabon

25 febrero 2016

From 25 to 27 January 2016, the Member States of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) celebrated International Customs Day in Libreville, at the invitation of the Director General of Gabonese Customs, who was implementing a resolution made the previous year in Brazzaville by ECCAS Directors General of Customs to organize the joint celebration of International Customs Day on a a rotating basis in the different Member States. Present at this first joint celebration were, notably, in addition to the Gabonese Customs Administration, delegations from the Customs Administrations of Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Secretariat of the World Customs Organization (WCO).

The activities organized around the theme chosen this year by the WCO, namely "Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement", hinged on a series of conferences given by the countries present, and a grand military parade which took place on the main esplanade of the Hôtel des douanes, the headquarters of the Directorate General of Gabon Customs. This military parade was preceded by a number of speeches, and the award of Customs medals of honour and WCO certificates of merit to deserving officials from the Customs Administrations of Gabon and the Republic of the Congo.

During the conferences, participants enjoyed a screening of an institutional film on Gabonese Customs, the presentation of an experiment conducted by Gabonese Customs and a national company on the possible use of drones in Customs surveillance, a presentation on the Single Window and of the automation of Customs disputes carried out by the Republic of the Congo Customs Administration, and a presentation of the concept of the Single Customs Territory (SCT) carried out by the Democratic Republic of the Congo regarding a project implemented on the border with Tanzania. These exchanges of views, marked by the wish to harmonize strategies and pool efforts and competences, placed a particular emphasis on the key role of information and communication technologies to better meet the ever-growing demands of the modernization of Customs and international trade.

During the official ceremony presided over by Mrs. Marie-Julie BILOGHE, Deputy Minister representing the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Economy and the Promotion of Investments and Planning, in which several other members of the Government also participated, the message sent by the Secretary General of the WCO was read by his representative, Mr. Samson BILANGNA, during his speech given after the welcoming address by Mr. Alain Paul NDJOUBI-OSSAMY, Director General of Gabonese Customs. The importance and the objectives of the celebration were presented to the Customs community present and represented in Libreville, Customs’ partners and all stakeholders taking part in this grand festival celebrating merits and the sharing of experiences.

At the close of the festivities, the delegations from the Customs administrations present drew up a final communiqué containing recommendations relevant to the location of the countries and connected to the theme of International Customs Day. The second joint celebration will take place on 26 January 2017 in the capital of one of the ECCAS Member States, to be selected by mutual agreement.