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West African Customs implement their regional interconnectivity project to manage their transit operations

02 abril 2019

On Friday 22 March 2019 in Côte d’Ivoire, the interconnectivity project launch meeting took place for the IT systems of the Customs administrations of the Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The meeting, chaired by Côte d’Ivoire, was attended by the ECOWAS Commission, the Secretariat of the World Customs Organization (WCO), the WCO Vice-Chair for West and Central Africa, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the European Union, the World Bank, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), USAID and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Customs IT system interconnectivity project is one of the actions undertaken by ECOWAS to improve the flow in the circulation of goods on the various road corridors of its regional area by making precise information available to Customs offices in digital form on cargoes in transit from one state to another.

More precisely, it allows Customs offices in the country of departure of the transit consignment to send data about the consignment in real time to the Customs offices en route and the Customs office of destination. It also means that the Customs offices en route can inform the office of departure that the vehicle and goods have passed through and the office of destination can confirm the arrival of the vehicle and the acceptance of the cargo.

This IT solution was specified by the Customs administrations concerned (in particular Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal), with the technical support of the WCO, UNCTAD, JICA and the Chambers of Commerce, and with the financial support of a range of partners, including ECOWAS, the European Union, the World Bank and GIZ. The technical solution was then developed by UNCTAD and a pool of IT experts from the region and integrated into UNCTAD’s ASYCUDA World software. It is now operational and in use for transit operations between Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, as well as, to some degree, between Togo and Burkina Faso. The Directors General of Customs of Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso took advantage of the opportunity of the Abidjan meeting to sign a framework instruction on interconnectivity (see photo).

According to the timetable presented at the Abidjan meeting, interconnectivity is to be rolled out by 2020 for the 15 ECOWAS Customs administrations, but it is the aspiration of the Customs administrations of the WCO West and Central Africa region that this solution should be deployed throughout the region, including in Central Africa.

The WCO has undertaken to continue providing technical support to this initiative, which it sees as a priority issue for the region in order to contribute towards the mobilization and coordination of the partners and donors who, together, want to provide support for interconnectivity.