Creating a new pool of experts to support AfCFTA implementation: WCO completes MTP on Rules of Origin for its French-speaking African Members

24 June 2024

Generously hosted by Senegal Customs, the final Working Group activity (WG5) of the Master Trainer Programme (MTP) on Rules of Origin (RoO) for French-speaking WG members was held in Dakar, Senegal, from 3 to 14 June 2024, under the auspices of the WCO/JICA Joint Project.  

Fifteen participants from 8 WCO Members (Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Côte d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Senegal and Togo) who began the journey in October 2021, participated in this final working group activity, following four previous working group activities and intense intersessional work spread over these years. Through these activities, the future Master Trainers (MTs) had deepened their expertise on Rules of Origin, acquired soft skills in training delivery, and developed training material on RoO tailored to regional needs.

During WG5, and to receive certification, the fifteen future MTs WG members conducted a three-day training programme for 25 Senegal Customs officials and private sector representatives, utilizing training material they had developed with the support of experts and the WCO/JICA Project team over the last two years.  Following the successful completion of the training sessions, all 15 working group members have been certified as Master Trainers on Rules of Origin. They will now actively conduct capacity-building activities and serve as valuable regional assets in the Customs community and beyond.

As an immediate follow-up to WG5, there was a ground-breaking WCO Pre-accreditation Workshop on RoO, which the newly certified MTs attended. Holding from 10 to 14 June 2024 at the same venue as the previous workshop, this pre-accreditation workshop allowed the MTs to demonstrate their competencies as experts on RoO and were evaluated by experts from the WCO’s Tariff and Trade Affairs Directorate and the Capacity Building Directorate. The successful participants of the pre-accreditation workshop will be invited to the next stage of the WCO expert accreditation process, consisting of field missions, to achieve full accreditation to support future WCO capacity-building activities worldwide.

WG5 in Dakar was another milestone in the achievements of the MTP. A partnership between the WCO and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the MTP aims to establish a self-sustainable and autonomous training capacity in key Customs work areas in the participating regions by developing a pool of well-qualified Master Trainers (MTs) and training materials/programmes that meet regional needs. The programme, which spans 2-3 years, had developed some 150 MTs in various core Customs topics in Africa by June 2021. These MTs trained more than 49,000 people between 2018 and 2023.

The high-level opening ceremony of WG5 was a testament to the importance of capacity building on Rules of Origin for implementing the AfCFTA. In their remarks, Mr. Malick MBAYE, Coordinator of the General Directorate of Senegal Customs, and Dr. Himomichi MORISHITA, Resident Representative of the JICA Senegal Office, highlighted the timeliness and crucial expected contribution of  the MTP on RoO to this end.

The workshop’s closing was attended by high-level representatives from Senegal Customs and some development partners and regional economic communities, including the First Deputy Resident Representative of  JICA office in Senegal, the Director of Customs Union and Taxation of the ECOWAS Commission, the Director of the Customs Union and Free Movement of the UEMOA Commission, the Head of RoO in the AfCFTA Secretariat, the Head of Customs Capacity Building and Training in the AfCFTA Secretariat, and the representative of the ROCB WCA. These personalities expressed strong expectations on the crucial role and future activities of the newly-certified Master Trainers. 

The completion of MTP is a significant achievement towards implementing the WCO’s capacity-building strategy, as it will increase the pool of experts capable of independently leading training and technical assistance activities in the Customs community and beyond.

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