10/21/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/21/2019 08:03
Following a decision by the 24th Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa (WCA) region in March 2019, a Conference of WCA regional Customs administrations and development partners on the theme of 'Challenges and Opportunities of SMART Borders in WCA' was organized in Niamey, Niger from 16 to 18 October 2019. The Conference was attended by approximately 100 delegates, including eight Directors General of Customs from WCA, delegates from 18 countries in the region, and representatives of international and regional organizations, development banks and donor agencies.
During the opening ceremony, the Director General of Niger Customs, Mr. Abdallah Harouna, welcomed the delegates on behalf of the host administration. The Vice-Chair of the WCA region and Director General of Guinea Customs, Mr. Toumany Sangaré, spoke about the need for investing in Customs to implement the SMART borders approach, as outlined by the WCO in its theme for 2019. The representative of the Niger Chamber of Commerce also supported Customs reform, highlighting the link between trade facilitation and increased revenue collection.
The WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, appreciated this opportunity for Customs to share its vision, as enshrined in the WCO Strategic Plan for 2019-2022, and articulate its assistance requirements. The objective of the Conference was twofold: firstly, to provide an opportunity for development partners to learn about the environment in which Customs administrations operate and the ensuing needs on the ground and, secondly, to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts through greater coordination among donors. He highlighted the economic contribution by Customs to enhancement of the business environment, especially by implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), emphasizing that the AfCFTA operational phase had been officially launched at the African Union Summit held in Niamey in July this year. Dr. Mikuriya also drew development partners' attention to the evolving mission of Customs in the security domain, as this is also a critical component of the WCA region's business environment. He encouraged further dialogue and networking between Customs and development partners to maximize the use of resources from donor countries, which are accountable to their taxpayers, for the benefit of global trade and economic development.
Dr. Mikuriya and the Vice-Chair of the WCA region, Mr. Sangaré, were received by the Prime Minister of Niger, H.E Brigi Rafini, where they discussed the Conference and Customs' role in supporting trade, especially at border areas which require security infrastructure in addition to facilitative measures, such as interconnectivity at borders.
All the participants expressed their appreciation to Niger Customs for its warm hospitality and for creating excellent conditions for communication between the region's countries.