A successful dialogue with donors for Customs administrations in West and Central Africa

10 July 2015

The First Regional Conference of Donors in the West and Central Africa Region was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 8 and 9 July 2015. The Conference was attended by representatives of all 23 Customs administrations from the Region and various development partners. It was hosted and chaired by the Director General of Cameroon Customs, Ms. Minette Libom Li Likeng, in her capacity as Vice-Chair of the West and Central Africa Region, with sponsorship from CCF Japan. After an opening speech given by the Minister of Finance of Cameroon, Mr.Alamine Ousmane Mey, the WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya delivered a keynote speech, during which he emphasized the importance of capacity building for the Region, and the consequent need for funding from development partners to make Customs reform sustainable.

The meeting heard about WCO capacity building programmes from the Secretariat and the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) in Abidjan, various programmes underway by international and regional organizations, as well as the activities and priorities of donors active in the region. On the second day of the Conference, the office of the Vice-Chair presented elements that experts from the 23 regional members identified as priority areas for regional capacity building, including interconnectivity, AEO, intelligence sharing and human resource management. Representatives of Customs administrations also presented their national needs and priorities for capacity building. Donors expressed appreciation for the presentations and suggested ways forward to further elaborate business cases. They also shared their contact details to ensure follow-up.

The Conference established working groups covering each of the regional priorities which would deliver progress reports to the regional steering committee scheduled in November. Customs representatives also decided to develop a common template for projects and to help each other in developing business cases. All participants expressed appreciation for the initiative and hospitality of the Cameroon government and Customs.

Secretary General Mikuriya took the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister, Mr. Philémon Yang, and Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Mr. Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, in addition to the Minister of Finance Mr. Ousmane Mey, and expressed gratitude for their support for Customs reform. They also discussed the future direction of Customs and its contribution to regional integration and border security, and reaffirmed political support for continuous Customs modernisation.