The Eastern and Southern Africa chapter of the World Customs Organization (WCO-ESA) held its 28th Regional Steering Group meeting in Kigali this week. Delegations from more than 20 countries were hosted by Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA).
According to RRA, the meeting aims at creating delivery mechanisms that ensure gender equitability, professional and modernized customs administrations that are fair, efficient and effective in revenue collection, and border management service.
In his opening remarks, William Musoni, RRA Commissioner for Customs, said that the platform was an opportunity to learn from each other how to facilitate trade efficiency and professionalism while ensuring economic growth and intra-regional trade.
“While Intraregional trade is far lower in Africa than in most other regions, we believe that investments in programmes that modernise administration and trade procedures, can reap the benefits of more trade, revenue collection, competitiveness and development. Therefore, collaboration and cooperation among regional partners is crucial,” he explained.
He added that customs procedures were relevant for land-locked countries such as Rwanda. Such countries suffer from high transaction costs and long travel time to reach foreign markets.
According to the WCO-ES steering group, excessive regulatory requirements and physical and documentary controls during importation/transit/exportation cause delays at the border and increase transport costs, thus hampering trade. Hence, efficient and effective customs and other border procedures are crucial when developing regional trade supply chain.
Steven Magera, the chairman of the Regional Steering Group (RSG), said the meeting will come up with different views to address a number of issues in the region, including tax avoidance and evasion, misaligned legislation, cases of integrity and corruption, lack of customs infrastructure including IT system, among others.
“Security will also be on the agenda, to create a secure and clear environment of doing trade,” he added