By Richard Adorsu-
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) Accra GHANA- Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI) has signed an agreement with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to modernize customs procedures using the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).
The ASYCUDA is an integrated customs management system for international trade and transport operations in a modern automated environment. It has advanced software applications which are designed and developed for customs administrations and the trade community to comply with international standards when fulfilling import, export and transit related procedures.
The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) is a key beneficiary of the system which is being provided under the MCTI Zambia Border Posts Upgrading (ZBPUP) Project, funded under the 11th European Development Fund, COMESA Trade Facilitation Programme.
The ASYCUDA support to ZRA is valued at €548,000 and will involve strengthening of existing automated customs processes through harmonization of clearance processes in all customs offices and ensuring that there is adherence to the agreed customs and trade facilitation principles and procedures.
It will involve automation of the remaining processes on the Automated System for Customs Data world system and deployment of new ASYCUDA functionalities. These improvements will be made available and configured with the use of the latest ASYCUDA World version of the software, already deployed at ZRA, so as to maximize the benefits for the customs authority.
Once fully operationalized, it is anticipated that, this support will ultimately speed up customs clearance processes, improve revenue control and reduce legacy related administrative challenges faced by the private sector when utilizing the ASYCUDA world system. Specifically,
the latter will involve development of a user-friendly ASYCUDA World system, which will improve access and increase utilization of the system among the private sector.
According to the EDF 11 Trade Facilitation Programme Team Leader Mr. Charles Chaitezvi, Zambia has begun the process of reducing the number of border agencies and encoding Coordinated Border Management principles within the operational framework for border agencies.
“This is key to unlocking trade facilitation challenges as it will improve collaboration between border agencies and the private sector thus having goods and services moving and clearing faster and cheaply,” Mr. Chaitezvi said.
More importantly, he added, the move will ensure better connectivity and enhancements in the Information and Communication Technology management systems as a result of this support, which is key to increase intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services. This will be done by reducing the costs/delays of imports/exports at specific border posts and reduction of Non-Tariff Barriers across the borders, and overall advance the Coordinated Border Management along the corridors.
The ZBPUP is anchored on the Sub-delegation Agreement signed between Zambia and COMESA in November 2022 valued at €6.8 million. The project focuses on improving operational environment through improving the legal and regulatory framework and procedures, enhancing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems and interconnectivity, upgrading of soft border infrastructure and capacity building and sensitization and awareness related interventions. The three border posts targeted for support in Zambia include Chirundu, Mwami and Nakonde.
For New Africa Business News Richard Adorsu Reports, Africa Correspondent