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ESA region discusses the nCEN’s role in Customs operations and intelligence sharing

19 octubre 2021

On 4 October 2021, representatives of National Customs Enforcement Network (nCEN) countries from the WCO’s East and Southern Africa (ESA) region gathered for the 6th Regional Meeting of nCEN Programme Leaders. This virtual meeting was organized and chaired by the Burundi Revenue Authority, the current ESA Regional nCEN Leader. Alongside representatives of nCEN countries, representatives of the WCO Secretariat and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for ESA also participated in the meeting.

During the opening remarks at the start of the meeting, focusing on the role of the nCEN application in Customs operations and intelligence sharing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Jean Berchmans Niyonzima, Commissioner for Investigations in the Burundi Revenue Authority, stressed that in these times of global health crisis, the role of Customs in preventing threats and non-compliant activities at borders was critical and that the use of technology was one means of achieving trade security. Mr. Niyonzima went on to say that the nCEN, through its intelligence sharing feature, would not only help mitigate risks of illicit trade but also optimize revenue collection in the ESA region.

In the course of the meeting, participants discussed matters relating to the use of the nCEN and challenges faced with data collection at the national level. Additionally, they exchanged some best practices for building national processes incorporating the nCEN application. Some newly released features of the nCEN application were then presented by the WCO Secretariat, including a simplified input format for statistical data collection and a desktop application feature allowing offline data entry.

Both technical solutions mentioned above are linked to the WCO Charter of Data Quantity and Quality Enhancement in the CEN, endorsed by Members attending the 41st Session of the Enforcement Committee and by the 138th Session of the WCO Council. The Charter is a strategic document calling on all WCO Members to mobilize their efforts to contribute to the enhancement of the global CEN database by inputting more and better quality data, thus further facilitating data driven decision-making and policy analysis.

In addition, in an effort to ensure a smooth upgrade process to new versions of the software and enhance the application’s sustainability, a fully automated upgrade process has been introduced, offering much needed assistance to countries currently struggling with human resource availability. The meeting participants gave positive feedback on the new version of the nCEN, particularly welcoming this automated upgrade feature enabling all countries to benefit fully from the new functionality enhancements immediately after their release.

The meeting concluded with the election of Mauritius as the new Regional nCEN Programme Leader, tasked with facilitating cooperation at the regional level and sharing the perspectives of the ESA region with the wider Global nCEN Network.