COLIBRI Project: first regional training on the use of the Geoportal and the CENcomm

18 March 2022

The COLIBRI Project, implemented by the WCO and funded by the European Union (EU), organized its first regional training event on the use of the Geoportal and the CENcomm for French-speaking beneficiary countries in West Africa. This train-the-trainer course took place in Dakar, Senegal, from 28 February to 4 March 2022.

The training course brought together the main authorities in charge of general aviation control from four different countries: Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania and Mali. Over the five days of the course, 26 participants from Customs, the Gendarmerie, Civil Aviation, the Air Force, Police and Airport Anti-Trafficking Units (CAAT) of the AIRCOP Project, as well as representatives of the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) of West and Central Africa, built up knowledge and skills on the use of the Geoportal, the COLIBRI Project’s geolocalization IT tool, and learned about its complementarity with the CENcomm, a key WCO tool for the secure exchange of messages in real time.

The workshop was introduced by Mr. Sylvain Raymond, WCO Drugs and Precursors Programme Manager, who emphasized the need to provide administrations with a tool to improve general aviation monitoring by mapping events such as controls and seizures.

The EU Delegation in Senegal was represented at the opening by the Regional Coordinator FPI 1 (Peace, Stability & Global Threats).  Ms. Ilaria Mussetti, explained how general aviation has become an asset for criminal activities, representing a real risk for the security of the region. The EU representative also highlighted the essential role played by new technologies in enhancing surveillance in this sensitive aviation sector.

Mr. Birame Sidy Kane, Director of the RILO for West Africa, representing the Director General of Senegalese Customs, pointed out the importance of the Geoportal and, in particular, its resources, such as the library, which could be very useful for authorities responsible for aviation monitoring in order to reinforce their operational cooperation. The Director of the RILO for West Africa also commended the efforts of the WCO in providing secure operational IT tools to its Members, especially to the project’s beneficiaries.

The first three days of the training course were devoted to the functionalities of the Geoportal. This IT tool allows users to map events such as seizures made and the occurrence of aircraft incidents and accidents, but also to take into account any clandestine infrastructures detected and any relevant information gathered during observations in the field. Participants learned how to use the COLIBRI mobile application to input data directly from the field during their daily monitoring activities. They were also able to familiarize themselves with all the features available in the Geoportal, such as the use of different filters and layers to analyse the nature of the soil or the physical features of the terrain in order to compile information about possible makeshift runways.

The final two days of the training course were devoted to the CENcomm. This WCO communication tool allows field officers from different agencies to exchange information with each other securely and in real time during operations. Participants explored its complementarity with the Geoportal, looking in particular at how its information regarding seizures and statistical breakdowns can be used to strengthen risk analysis in general aviation monitoring.

After the training event, participants are requested to organize the same course with a view to training their colleagues. Upon successfully completing this stage, participants will be awarded the WCO Train-the-Trainer Certificate.

The next regional training course on the use of the Geoportal, its features and the CENcomm will take place in Bogota, Colombia in May 2022. COLIBRI is planning a total of five regional training events, three in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and two in West and Central Africa (WCA).