Advancing Customs Interconnectivity for Member Customs Administrations in the SADC region

22 December 2023

From 27 November to 1 December 2023, the World Customs Organization (WCO), in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), conducted a sub-regional workshop on Customs Interconnectivity for Member countries of the SADC to advance the development of a regional framework for the harmonized implementation of Customs systems interconnectivity and data exchange, based on the WCO instruments and tools. The workshop brought together several stakeholders, including representatives from the SADC Customs administrations, the SADC Secretariat, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Secretariat, and AUDA-NEPAD. It was successfully hosted by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) under the aegis of the Sida-WCO TFC Programme, with funding from the Government of Sweden.

The workshop discussions served to deepen understanding and foster collaboration on Customs interconnectivity within the SADC region. Representatives from various Member states presented their ongoing initiatives, revealing the purpose, benefits, and legal frameworks underpinning their Customs data exchange. Discussions ensuing from the country presentations ranged from compliance measures to system interfaces, communication protocols, and the utilization of WCO tools like the WCO Data Model. Moreover, the key regional stakeholders, SACU, AUDA-NEPAD, and SADC, shared invaluable knowledge, offering a panoramic view of their projects and experiences in Customs interconnectivity, including the objectives of the SADC Trade and Transit Facilitation Project.

The focal point revolved around developing the draft SADC GNC Utility Block. Through several sessions, participants navigated legal frameworks, business rules, data clusters, and the technologies involved for interoperability. These discussions were complemented by in-depth sessions on strategic digitization in the SADC region, aligning Customs interconnectivity with broader regional trade and transit programmes. The commitment to collaboration and the exchange of experiences sets a promising trajectory for enhanced Customs integration in the SADC region, promising smoother trade operations and a more connected network for economic growth.

Tangible results from the workshop included a refined draft of the SADC GNC Utility Block, roadmaps for implementation, and comprehensive reports from the Member states’ bilateral consultations to strengthen interconnectivity. The collaborative spirit fostered at the workshop has paved the way for a more integrated and harmonized Customs ecosystem within the SADC region.

The workshop achievements represented a milestone in the ongoing Sida-WCO TFCM Programme deliverables to support the modernization of Customs operations and streamline trade facilitation.

For more information on the Sida-WCO TFCM Programme, kindly contact: