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Introduction

Last update: 9th September 2020

The SMART borders concept encourages WCO members to delve into the realm of technology to find solutions to facilitate the flow of people, goods and conveyances at borders while following the guiding principles for SMART borders: Secure, Measurable, Automated, Risk Management-based and Technology-driven.

As is widely experienced, the lack of a cohesive system results in the miscommunication and non-alignment of the various procedures within border posts, which create serious delays and unnecessary complications for the movement of cross-border cargo. WCO ESA RPSG, therefore, encourages the paradigm shift toward technology and advocates for a SMART border concept across the region.

Other forms of border advancements also fall under this technological category, including One-Stop Border Posts (OSBP) and Trade Single Window Systems (SWS).

In 2019 the WCO selected the slogan “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport” as the theme for the year. A SMART border design encourages the development of interconnected border agencies that operate in a transparent and trustworthy environment.

There are four guiding principles in transforming traditional borders into SMART borders:

  1. Create a safer border by employing risk-based decision-making,
  2. Improve standardisation and visibility by normalising data requirements and partnering across borders,
  3. Increase cost savings by consolidating functions at the border, and
  4. Innovate at borders by creating an accessible ecosystem that provides commercial and community solutions.

OSBPs allow for goods and people to move across adjoining borders more efficiently with countries on both sides of the border, locating their border operations at a single physical location. These operations include the legal and institutional framework, facilities, and associated procedures. The OSBP is founded on four pillars:

  1. Legal and institutional framework,
  2. Simplification and harmonisation of procedures,
  3. ICT and data exchange, and
  4. Hard infrastructure.

The rationale is to accelerate and simplify the movement of people and cargo across borders while at the same time maintaining and even enhancing levels of control. This process reduces transport costs and avoids the upbuild of congestion. An added benefit is that regional co-operation is improved. OSBPs are especially important for landlocked countries where the transportation of goods is costly and transit times are long. Slow border procedures greatly exacerbate these negative factors. They also lead to the growth of criminal activity and other undesirable practices in the vicinity of the border posts. The One-Stop Border Post Sourcebook, created in partnership with organisations such as the WCO, the World Bank, JICA, TradeMark East Africa, NEPAD, provides information on the benefits of OSBPs and lessons learned during implementation and guidelines for implementation.

SWS is a trade facilitation measure (tool) that allows traders to submit the documentation and information necessary to fulfil regulatory requirements in a standardised format to all the relevant parties (Customs and OGAs) once and through one portal. SWS means that a trader submits documentation, such as commercial invoices, certificates of origin customs declarations and permit applications, onto one platform (or in hard copy to a specific office), from where it is distributed to the relevant parties. The response returned from these parties is sent to the same office, which then communicates with the trader if necessary. A single window aims to speed up the process of moving goods across borders by allowing traders to submit the required documents once only instead of presenting the same form multiple times to different stakeholders.

Best Practices Globally


There are several already fully established OSBPs across Africa. The OSBP Sourcebook discusses some of the best practices, challenges and lessons learned during the implementation of OSBPs. A summary of these is in the table below.

OSBP lessons learned


OSBP

Lessons Learned / Obstacles

Chirundu[1][2]

  • Select the lead Ministry.
  • Involve all agencies at headquarters and border posts; government buy-in is also crucial.
  • Simplify procedures, expedite transit, ensure connectivity, improve the use of ICT applications.
  • Begin the legal framework early.
  • Plan for efficient workflow and coordination.
  • Training before and after opening is crucial.
  • It is crucial to involve the private sector in the design of the OSBP, which should include the sub-committees from the start of the process.

Cinkansé (Burkina Faso and Togo)[3]

  • It is essential to focus on the processes and not overemphasise the focus on physical facilities.
  • It is crucial to streamline lengthy processes.
  • The importance of developing and agreeing on agency procedures should not be underestimated.
  • The process of establishing a OSBP should happen in an integrated way, with all agencies working together from the start.

Kenya/Tanzania[4]

  • Collaboration between countries across borders is crucial.
  • It is vital to clarify the activation criteria and procedures.
  • The capacities and skills of staff are crucial to managing the border efficiently as well as responding to crises well.
  • Staff at border posts should receive thorough training on contingency plans and SOPs and have regular drills on their procedures.

Namanga and Rusumo (Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania)[5]

  • A well-structured legal and regulatory framework is crucial.
  • Well-crafted procedures for operationalisation is fundamental.
  • Extensive training and sensitisation activities are incredibly beneficial.

The EAC, OSBPs in a Customs Union[6]

  • There is a great need for developing a comprehensive OSBP legal framework.
  • An extensive budget must be drawn up that makes preparations for unexpected or unforeseen expenses. The time frame for implementation should also consider this.
  • ICT infrastructure and equipment is a crucial part of the process.
  • When establishing OSBPs, harmonising procedures are crucial to ensuring efficiency.
  • It is important to have well-structured institutional arrangements and coordination.

SWS is a crucial part of moving toward “SMARTer” and more efficient borders, and UNECE provides the following information in terms of best practices, benefits and lessons learned in implementing a SWS.

SWS benefits and lessons learned


Country

Benefits from SWS

Lessons Learned / Obstacles

Finland

  • Annual faxes reduced from over 50 000 to 365.
  • Improved revenue collection with faster invoice cycles.
  • Data quality has improved.
  • Reduction of work phases has reduced cost and increased accuracy.
  • Co-operation between different government agencies is crucial.

Germany

  • Information chain has been established
  • The flow of information is more efficient.
  • Cost and time reduction.
  • Data quality has improved.
  • Less documentation due to standardisation.
  • Better control in the transport chain.
  • Co-operation between all parties involved is crucial.

Guatemala

  • An electronic system streamlined the export process.
  • Cost and time reduction.
  • Decreased corruption.
  • Data quality has improved.
  • Less documentation due to standardisation.
  • The lack of technology has been a severe obstacle in implementing the SWS.
  • Findings show that the private sector administration is more efficient than public sector administration.

Hong Kong

  • Results indicated faster and more cost-effective document delivery.
  • Findings also show reduced operation cost and minimised errors.
  • Data quality has improved.
  • Reforms show more accessible communication between trading partners.
  • Ultimately, SWS has resulted in improved financial management (credit, cash flow).
  • It has improved the IT literacy of the industry.

Indonesia

  • SWS resulted in an estimated cost reduction of USD 15 million in container storage and documentation courier costs.
  • Harmonising data flows and implementing IT systems has been one of the most considerable challenges.

Malaysia

  • Data quality has improved.
  • Increased efficiency.
  • Time-saving and cost reduction.
  • Encourage movement toward electronic processes rather than paper-based processes.
  • Digitisation of information allowed for faster and more accurate decision-making.
  • The harmonisation of information parameters was very challenging.
  • The co-operation and involvement of OGAs are crucial.
  • It is important to have a collaboration between government and the private sector.

Mauritius

  • 24/7 availability of the system has improved planning.
  • Average clearing time has been reduced from 4 hours to 15 minutes while making the process more transparent and encouraging competitiveness.
  • SWS improves risk management processes.
  • It is important to have a collaboration between government and the private sector.

Peru

  • 25% reduction in time spent on documentation and 5% reduction in cost.
  • The lack of IT systems and skilled workers to implement and maintain these IT systems.

Senegal

  • SWS shows an increased delivery of higher quality services to traders.
  • Findings show a reduction in processing time and cost.
  • Government agencies all must buy into the idea.
  • There must be reliable IT systems in place to ensure effectiveness.
  • Once the system is standardised, it is much easier for everyone to use.

Singapore

  • SWS reduced processing time for approval from between 4 hours and 2 days to 10 minutes.
  • Fees charged was reduced by over 50%.
  • Promotes data sharing and improves data quality.
  • Government co-operation and buy-in are crucial.
  • One of the biggest obstacles was changing mindsets and moving from manual processes to electronic processes.

Sweden

  • The introduction of SWS resulted in higher quality services with fewer errors.
  • Compliance costs reduced by between 20% and 50%.
  • Time spent on documentary controls reduced by 50%.
  • Increase in Customs revenue due to higher levels of proper collection.
  • SWS results in better risk analysis and profiling.
  • Creating a framework that enabled SMEs to participate in electronic submission was essential but challenging.
  • Collaboration between government and the private sector is essential.

United States

  • SWS reduced the cost and burden for traders to provide documentation.
  • Removing the duplication and manipulation of data has allowed for better data integrity and accuracy.
  • Simplification of compliance procedures.
  • Commitment from the highest level possible is crucial, as well as buy-in from all stakeholders.

What stands out in the two tables above is the importance of government buy-in and co-operation between different government agencies, along with the importance of ensuring that the ICT infrastructure is well developed and maintained.

Progress in the ESA Region


What stands out in the two tables above is the importance of government buy-in and co-operation between different government agencies, along with the importance of ensuring that the ICT infrastructure is well developed and maintained.

One-Stop Border Post and Single Window implementation in the ESA region (as of 2016)


Border crossing

Country A

Country B

SWS

Progress

Akanyaru/Kanyaru

Rwanda

Burundi

No

Not yet established

Beitbridge/Messina

South Africa

Zimbabwe

No

Not yet established

Bibia/Elegu-Nimule

Uganda

South Sudan

No

-

Busia

Kenya

Uganda

Yes

-

Chirundu

Zambia

Zimbabwe

No

-

Galafi

Djibouti

Ethiopia

No

Not yet established

Gallabat/Metema

Ethiopia

Sudan

No

Not yet established

Gatuna/Katuna

Uganda

Rwanda

Yes

-

Gisenyi/Goma

Rwanda

DRC

No

Not yet established

Isibania/Sirari

Kenya

Tanzania

No

-

Kagitumba/Mirama Hills

Rwanda

Uganda

Yes

-

Kasumbalesa

Zambia

DRC

No

Not yet established

Kazangula

Zambia

Botswana

No

-

Kobero/Kabanga

Burundi

Tanzania

Yes

Not yet established

Lebombo/Ressano Garcia

South Africa

Mozambique

No

Not yet established

Lunga Lunga/Horo Horo

Kenya

Tanzania

Yes

-

Machipanda/Forbes

Mozambique

Zimbabwe

No

Not yet established

Malaba

Kenya

Uganda

Yes

-

Mamuno/Trans Kalahari

Namibia

Botswana

No

-

Mandimba/Chiponde

Mozambique

Malawi

No

Not yet established

Moyale

Ethiopia

Kenya

No

-

Mpondwe

Uganda

DRC

No

Not yet established

Mututkula

Uganda

Tanzania

Yes

-

Mwami/Mehinji

Zambia

Malawi

No

-

Nadapal

South Sudan

Kenya

No

-

Namanga

Kenya

Tanzania

Yes

-

Nemba/Gasenyi I

Rwanda

Burundi

Yes

-

Nimule

Suganda

South Sudan

No

-

Nyampanda/

Cuchimano

Zimbabwe

Mozambique

No

Not yet established

Oshikango/Santa Clara

Namibia

Angola

No

Not yet established

Pandamatenga

Zambia

Botswana

No

Not yet established

Plumtree/

Ramokgwebane

Zimbabwe

Botswana

No

-

Rubavu/Goma

DRC

Rwanda

No

-

Ruhwa

Rwanda

Burundi

Yes

Not yet established

Rusizi/Bakavu

Burundi

DRC

No

Not yet established

Rusumo

Tanzania

Rwanda

Yes

-

Taveta/Holili

Kenya

Tanzania

Yes

-

Tunduma/Nakonde

Zambia

Tanzania

No

-

Wenela/Katima Mulilo (Sesheke)

Namibia

Zambia

No

Not yet established



OSBPs in Africa


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The figure above shows all the OSBPs on the African continent, the majority of the ESA region’s OSBPs, with completed or ongoing construction focused around the Eastern part of the region, with the Southern part of the region showing many planned OSBPs. The majority of OSBPs are located on or in proximity to the North-South Corridor.



Single Window Systems in Africa


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The figure above shows the SWSs as distributed across the African continent, according to the Single Window Guide.


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