Promotion of Customs reform in Niger

26 November 2013

While attending the International Conference on the Fight against the Counterfeiting and Illicit Trade of Medicines held in Niger on 22 and 23 November 2013, the WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, also visited Niger Customs at the invitation of its Director General, Mr. Mahamadou Madi Mayaki. The Deputy Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs, Dr. Daniel Jatau, joined Secretary General Mikuriya to represent West and Central Africa in his capacity as WCO Vice-Chair for the Region.

Niger Customs organized a conference with Customs management and representatives of business to discuss Customs modernization in Niger with the Secretary General. Niger Customs presented its Strategic Plan 2013-2015, built around support from the WCO and drawing on the latter’s Strategic Plan. The discussions covered Niger's future direction in terms of capacity building to phase out its pre-shipment inspection (PSI) contract following the adoption of the Niamey Declaration on the use of inspection companies, adopted in the margins of the June 2013 Council Sessions by the Region’s Members. Secretary General Mikuriya explained that this would be a progressive process and that although transfer of knowledge to Customs officers was essential, Customs also needed to enhance its professionalism and integrity and encourage businesses to improve their compliance culture. He also visited Niamey Customs and observed its operations, which had resulted in seizures of huge quantities of counterfeit medicines.

In addition, Secretary General Mikuriya met with the Minister of Finance, Mr. Gilles Baillet, formerly a career Customs officer, and the Minister of Budget, Mr. Mohamed Boucha, to review Customs reform in Niger. They discussed the need to simplify procedures and improve transparency through information technology, to accede formally to the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), to ensure connectivity at borders and to strengthen human resources. The recruitment and training of young officers should bring about changes in mentality towards Customs’ authority. More effectively managing contracts with inspection companies, promoting knowledge transfer to Customs officers to help them regain their core functions, and the need for donor coordination were among the other topics of discussion.

Secretary General Mikuriya also met with the Prime Minister, H. E. Mr. Rafini Brigi, who promised his support for Niger Customs' Strategic Plan 2013-2015 and for early accession to the RKC.