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Official Launch of a new Master Trainer Programme on Rules of Origin in Africa

17 septiembre 2021

Under the auspices of the WCO/JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Joint Project, WCO organized a high-level official launching ceremony of the Master trainer Programme (MTP) on Rules of origin (RoO). The High-level official ceremony took place virtually on 8 September 2021 with the participation of 16 Customs administrations in Africa, namely Botswana, Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, as well as a number of regional entities such as ECOWAS, UEMOA, EAC, and AfCTFA Secretariat. The launch of the new MTP comes to continue the remarkable success of the flagship program of the WCO/JICA Joint Project, especially on the MTP, which recently started its phase 2 of the project for a 4-year project.

The MTP aims at developing sustainable training capacity in Africa by 1) developing a pool of well-experienced trainers and (2) developing regionally featured training materials and programs to be used by these trainers.  Upon completion of the MTP, successful alumni are expected to become a regional asset and contribute to the sustainable economic development of Africa through Customs modernization.  

The launching ceremony was attended by WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Ricardo Trevino, WCO Director for Tariff and Trade Mr. Konstantinos Kaiopoulos, Senior Vice-President of JICA Mr. Toshiyuki Nakamura, Director General of Japan Customs Mr. Wataru Sakata, and Heads of the 16 Customs Administrations as well as COMESA, ECOWAS, EAC, UEMOA, and AfCFTA Secretariat.

In his opening remarks, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya welcomed the participants and empathized on the importance of the MTP and WCO’s series of commitments to support the implantation of AfCFTA and the increase of connectivity in Africa. Dr. Mikuriya pointed that in the MTP was also linked to the WCO accreditation policy and expressed WCO’s hope for Master Trainers could be fully utilized inside and outside of Africa and explained that as shown in the past that the MTP encompasses the 4 Ts, namely tool, training, technology and trust that are fundamental to WCO activities. This is how the Master Trainer Program or MTP has been developed in Africa in close collaboration with the JICA. Dr. Mikuriya stated that the MTP in Africa made a tangible success and the MTP-credited experts already trained more than 20,000 Customs officers and the business people in Africa over the three years. Furthermore, he mentioned the new MTP for Africa on RoO is very timely as it will be supporting the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Moreover, touching that the European Union also decided to launch an EU funded project on RoO in Africa to support the implementation of the AfCFTA which would be managed by WCO, he explained that as the sole organization specialized in Customs, WCO was in an ideal position to ensure synergy and coherence of different donor-funded projects while avoiding unnecessary duplication, hence both JICA-funded and EU-funded programs would enhance human capability in a collaborative manner.

Mr. Toshiyuki Nakamura Senior Vice-President of JICA welcomed the new cooperation between WCO and JICA as a sign of continuous mutual collaboration. He mentioned that WCO and JICA have deepened their partnership to provide expertise and experiences to developing countries in the field of trade facilitation and Customs development. Based on this partnership and since 2016, the WCO/JICA capacity-building project continued to strengthen trade facilitation in Africa, as well as the MTP for 16 African WCO Members. With the continuous dedication of WCO, JICA, and Japan Customs, this program is now widely recognized in Africa, and around the world, as a great collaborative model for how Africa can build a pool of high-quality experts in African Customs administrations. The MTPs were so far able to strengthen the skills of 140 Master Trainers, across 16 countries, including in the specialties of customs valuation, HS classification, and intelligence analysis, and post-clearance audit.  

He explained also that now with this new MTP on RoO was decided between WCO and JICA given its importance to the success of the AfCFTA. Since Japan will be co-hosting the summit meeting called TICAD VIII in Tunisia next year, the AfCFTA has garnered the attention of both Japanese and African citizens. JICA is aware that cooperating in the field of trade facilitation to promote Africa’s regional integration is vital. Therefore, we believe strengthening the capacity of Customs officers on Rules of Origin is a key factor for AfCFTA’s success.

Then, Japan Customs Director General Mr. Wataru Sakata in his opening remarks confirmed Japan Customs’ support to the MTP in Africa to contribute to the human resource development for Customs administrations especially with the AfCFTA come into force.  He also expressed Japan Customs commitment to the development of Africa in cooperation with WCO and the JICA.

The opening remarks were followed by a panel session under the theme of "Key to success and best use of Master Trainer Programme for the day-to-day operation and the implementation of the AfCFTA". The panel session covered the benefits of the use of MTP and how to assure the best use of them as well as The expectation for the MTP and the plan of optimizing the utilization of Master Trainers (MTs), the Regional Entities’ expectations for the MTP for the region and its members and suggestion for the best use of MTs in the context of Africa. In the panel, not only Customs administrations but also several Regional entities participated as the EAC secretariat, ECOWAS, and AfCFTA. After the panel session, the senior representatives of the 16 beneficiary Administrations confirmed that the MTP is very timely for the region and meets the needs and challenges. Furthermore, they all confirmed their participation and commitment to the MTP activities.

At the closing remarks, Mr. Ricardo Trevino Deputy Secretary General stressed once again on the keys to the success of the Master Trainer Programme are 1) strong and continued commitments of participating Customs administrations to the Master Trainer Programme and 2) tailor-made deliverables such as training course and materials which meet the needs of African Customs Administrations 3) the assurance of complemental relationship among projects and programs and thanked all efforts. He also reiterated WCO’s deep appreciation to the JICA and Japan Customs for their active collaboration.
At the end, both WCO and JICA welcomed the active sharing of views and ideas during the launching ceremony and agreed to continue their collaborative work through the MTP to ensure more sustainable capacity development.

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