Nigeria and Benin Customs Establish Borderless Trade Connectivity Portal
The Nigeria and Benin Customs have jointly created a bilateral connectivity portal to allow a single user window for the registration and processing of products trading along the ECOWAS region.
The interconnectivity is an automated process that allows users to register information about their products from the comfort of their space onto the portal and have such processed.
The automated process will erode human interference and manipulation. It is a swift process that will make user time a less than 24 hour activity.
Expressing fears about the reliability and efficiency of the interface stakeholders questioned if their goods will escape bottlenecks inherent in such procedures.
Responding to their questions the head of Information Technology Nigeria Customs Service ACG T.B. Aber said, “The application is an automated process in this corridor and it will serve as a One-Stop-Border process which is a single application that both the Nigeria Customs and the Benin Customs will utilize.”, he said.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce expressed reservations about the numerous checkpoints littering the trade corridor and the challenge of delivering goods physically in the shortest possible time.
ACG Aber in his words responded that:
“This project is supported by two governments. We are articulating all these issues. We want to ensure that the exchange of documentary processes is under a coordinated management system.
“But the road networking infrastructure and security have to be also restructured and so many other fiscal policy measures that affect the manual environment.
“But when we digitalize it (the automated system) there must be structures supporting it.
“There are issues we have to articulate in our report and when they launch we will make sure that this aspect is communicated. We shall also highlight the Minister of Works.
“We shall also communicate with the Comptroller General of Customs (Rtd) Col. Hammid Ali that no matter how laudable his thoughts and efforts are, he has to highlight the Minister of Works to assist in hastening the upgrade of the road,” he
According to Mr. Aber the bilateral connectivity is a project created in line with the Alisa Project undertaken by the ECOWAS Headquarters to facilitate seamless trade along member nation routes.
The Alisa Project seeks to include all Customs Administrations in the region to eradicate undue tariffs and delay in trade. The application was launched on 26th April 2018 in Abidjan Cote d'Ivore.
In line with this the Nigeria and Benin Republic Customs have agreed to establish a bilateral connectivity beforehand.
Cote d’Ivore and Burkina Faso have already integrated the Alisa Project while Nigeria and Benin Republic will deploy the App in October this year.