Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente has called for increased building of capacities among customs officers to curb instances of insecurity, import of illicit drugs, human trafficking and trading in counterfeits which are on the increase.
The premier was speaking yesterday at the 23rd World Customs Organisation, East and Southern Africa (WCO ESA) Governing Council Meeting at the Kigali Convention Centre.
The WCO ESA is composed of 24 regional countries and is involved in ensuring efficiency and effectiveness of customs authorities of member states.
Ngirente said that though a lot has been done in building capacities of revenue and customs officials to curb cross-border concerns, especially those listed, there was need to do more.
“Though a lot has been done in building the capacity of officers in charge of collecting and managing customs in East and Southern Africa Region, equipping them further with modern methods of conducting customs’ activities, including application of IT, needs to continue.
“This is key as countries work against issues related to cross-border security, illegal importation of illicit drugs, human trafficking and illegal trading in general,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area agreement will increase the role and significance of custom authorities across the continent.
With the agreement expected to significantly increase cross-border trade, customs authorities will require increased skills to deal with emerging trends in trade, he said.
“This gathering comes at an opportune time. It follows the recent decision of the African Union leaders who, in their March 2018 extraordinary summit that took place here in Kigali, signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
“The Africa that we want all and deserve is an Africa that is developed, strong, united, and trades with itself. To achieve that, we must deepen our regional integration and boost our economic abilities. In this regard, customs organisations in our respective countries will play a key role,” Ngirente added.
The premier’s comments come at a time when regional revenue authorities have cited an increase of fraudulent practices, including attempts to smuggle.
For instance, the move to raise taxes on second-hand clothing imports, saw an increase in attempts to smuggle second-hand clothes as a section of traders seek to retain their profit margins.
Rwanda Revenue Authority has so far intercepted about 230 tonnes of used clothing being smuggled into the country.
RRA Commissioner General Richard Tusabe said that through regional cooperation, Rwanda and other regional countries have made significant progress through cooperation initiatives.
“We have achieved a number of milestones like embracing coordinated border management through One Stop Boarder Post and Implementing Electronic Single Window for Trade Facilitation among others,” Tusabe said.
Dr Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of World Customs Organisation, said that capacities of local and regional customs authorities can, among other things, be enhanced by embracing technology.