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WCO supports African Union moving forward on interconnectivity of Customs IT Systems

07 agosto 2017

At the invitation of the African Union (AU), the WCO participated in the 4th AU Customs Technical Working Group Meeting on Interconnectivity of Computerized Customs Clearance Systems that was held under the Chair of Zimbabwe from 31 July to 2 August 2017, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Member participants were Cameroon, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Togo and Zimbabwe. The following regional economic communities (RECs) and International Organizations also participated in the workshop: East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African Alliance for Electronic Commerce (AAEC), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the WCO Regional Office for Capacity Building for Eastern and Southern Africa (ROCB ESA).

In his opening remarks, Mr. FONGOD Edwin NUVAGA, Director General of Cameroon Customs, laid emphasis on the topic and stakes of interconnectivity of computerized Customs systems in the continent and recalled that trade-related hurdles could be efficiently eliminated through increased computerization, an indisputable guarantor of speed, transparency, security and prosperity.

The WCO made a presentation on the interconnectivity of Customs IT Systems and associated standards for the exchange of information, outlining strategic imperatives and key enablers including, for example, legal framework, business process mapping, data harmonization and protection, technical and semantic interoperability, and governance structure. He explained related WCO tools, in particular the SAFE Framework of Standards; Digital Customs; Globally Networked Customs; WCO Data Model and Single Window environment as well as ongoing work together with some good working initiatives in the area of paperless trade interconnectivity, leading to regional integration.

Responding to comments and observations from delegates, the WCO assured the meeting of its continued support based on members’ national and regional needs including the easy accessibility to all WCO instruments and tools. He also invited delegates to participate in the relevant WCO meetings, especially the Data Model Projects Team and Information Management Sub-Committee. It was suggested to enhance collaboration with RECs and the AUC in providing targeted support to respective Membership on the implementation of interconnectivity and other WCO instruments such as the WCO Data Model by leveraging synergies.

In addition to the IT experts from the Members States of the AU, representatives from the AAEC, EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, and IGAD also shared their perspective and work being done by them at this Meeting.

Based on the discussions and inputs shared by delegates, the Meeting reviewed the Roadmap and Strategy on Interconnectivity of Computerized Customs Clearance Information Systems in Africa with a goal of achieving full interconnectivity by 2025 through a 4-phased approach.

This Meeting made a good progress in consolidating the ongoing work with a clear roadmap and well-defined roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders including the expectations from the WCO. The WCO is committed to providing all necessary support going forward.