with support from the Japanese Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF/Japan) and Burkina
Faso Customs Administration organized a Regional Workshop on Digital Customs
and E-Commerce from 21 to 24 August 2017 at the Regional Training Centre in
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
As many as 36 representatives from 20
Customs administrations of the Region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape
Verde, Central African Republic, Congo (Democratic Republic), Congo (Republic
of), Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia,
Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone,
and Togo), Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) of Western
Africa (Senegal) and Central Africa (Cameron), African Alliance for E-Commerce
(AAEC), Express Industry and IT providers participated in the Workshop.
Inaugurating the Workshop, Mr. Adama
SAWADOGO, Director General, Burkina Faso said that information and
communication technology (ICT) is becoming omnipresent, impacting every walk of
life including the international supply chain and regulatory processes. He
underscored the need of finding innovative solutions through the maximum use of
ICT to address new and emerging challenges in terms of facilitating seamless
movement of goods, people, and conveyances across borders, while strengthening
risk management and control.
Noting some of the challenges and
opportunities presented by growing E-Commerce, the Director General called for
exploring ways and enhancing related capabilities to capture all commercial
activities on the Internet. Thanking the WCO, he encouraged participants to
share knowledge and enhance regional capacity on these issues.
The Experts from the WCO provided
detailed information and explanations on Digital Customs and its various
facets, in particular the implementation/consolidation of electronic services,
Single Window and harmonization of data and messaging standards in accordance
with the WCO Data Model. The Experts also made detailed presentations on
cross-border E-Commerce, including the related opportunities and challenges
together with potential solutions. All the relevant WCO tools and instruments,
country examples, case studies and the WCO’s ongoing and envisaged work in
these areas were explained and their use in national and regional context was
discussed in great detail.
Representatives from Mali, Cameroon,
Senegal, and Nigeria shared their respective national experiences and
initiatives on ICT implementation, IT project management, use of WCO Data
Model, and E-Commerce. In addition, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire
provided a detailed account of work being done by the ‘Regional Working Group
on Digital Customs’ (a group of 23 countries), and the representative of
African Alliance for E-Commerce (AAEC) presented their work in the area of
Single Window implementation (including ongoing pilots on the exchange of e-certificate
of origin) and E-Commerce.
Throughout the Workshop, the
participants raised several questions and shared practical experiences/best
practices relating to the implementation various ICT solutions and E-Commerce
as well as national experiences and initiatives concerning effective risk
management and efficient revenue collection on increasing low-value shipments.
Additionally, the accession/ratification and the harmonized implementation of
the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), the WCO Immediate Release Guidelines,
and the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) were discussed in the context
of consolidating ICT implementation and supporting E-Commerce flows.
There was a clear emphasis towards
moving to a paperless Single Window environment and eventually having an
interconnectivity/interoperability of Customs IT systems/Single Windows for an
efficient exchange of information (e.g., e-certificate of origin and
e-phytosanitary certificate). The capture and use of new data sources from all
economic operators in the E-Commerce supply chain for integrated risk
management as a whole government approach was equally explored as a potential
A representative from the Express
Industry (DHL) shared their perspective, in particular how they were adapting
to the growing E-Commerce environment. Several opportunities in terms of
leveraging respective control and compliance mechanisms of express service
providers and postal operators in improving compliance and strengthening risk
management together with related working experiences were discussed.
Being the first of its kind in the
Region, the Workshop was very well received by participants and raised a lot of
interest and robust discussions. Participants acquired an enhanced
understanding of issues relating to Digital Customs and cross-border E-Commerce
as well as relevant WCO instruments and tools in terms of their effective and
harmonized implementation at the national/regional level. Furthermore, they
learned how the different WCO instruments and tools could support the
facilitation of low-value shipments whilst ensuring effective revenue
collection and supply chain security.
The workshop also enabled the
participants in developing a broad strategy going forward, which inter
alia included adoption of a risk-based approach based on advance
electronic data (from E-commerce stakeholders such as Posts, express service
providers, e-platforms/marketplaces); the implementation/enhancement of ICT in
close coordination with other government agencies and private sector
stakeholders leading to a paperless single window environment; and the
development of IT and data analytics capabilities including internet
Additionally, the Workshop provided
participants with a good opportunity to establish networks with other Customs
administration of the Region through an enhanced understanding of issues of
mutual interest at the regional level. The WCO will continue to provide all
necessary support and technical assistance, based on national and regional
needs in the future.