Disruptive Technology in the MENA Region: Insights from the WCO Regional Online Experience-Sharing Workshop

24 February 2023

The WCO Online Regional Experience-Sharing Workshop on Disruptive Technologies for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) Region was held from 20 to 22 February 2023. The workshop was organized with the financial support of the Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF) of China.  This was the fifth and final in the series of regional workshops on disruptive technologies, where the first one was successfully carried out in March 2021 in the Asia-Pacific region and followed by three more workshops in the other four WCO regions. In addition to discussing the relevance of the WCO Data Model and other international standards of importance to the cross-border movement of goods; the workshop also aims at responding to a growing need from WCO Members to learn about various advanced technologies and how they can be mobilized in Customs operations.

The Workshop, which brought together over 30 participants from the MENA region, partner international organizations and the private sector was opened by Pranab Kumar Das, Director, Compliance and Facilitation Directorate and Nidal Salameh, Manager of the Vice-Chair Office for the MENA Region. In his address, the Director stressed that the response to COVID-19 has prompted contactless procedures and thus sped up the adoption of digital technology by several years. It is for this reason, he remarked, the WCO regional workshops on disruptive technologies are extremely pertinent today in terms of ensuring that progress continues and further raising awareness of the possibilities that these solutions could provide towards facilitating and better controlling the cross-border movement of goods. 

Speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chair for the MENA region, Nidal Salameh appreciated the opportunity provided by the workshop and encouraged participants to share their expertise on disruptive technologies. 

The 3-day experience-sharing workshop benefited from presentations and discussions on three technologies, namely Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things that have already shown so much potential for the future of Customs and border management. A dedicated session put special focus on the importance of international standards for efficient deployment of advanced technology in Customs operations.