GCNet partners GRA-Customs to expedite cross- border trade

August 8, 2017
Source: thebftonline.com l Ghana
GCNet partners GRA-Customs to expedite cross- border trade

As part of key initiatives to enhance cross-border trade in the West African sub region, the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) has facilitated a transit data exchange programme between the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and its Ivorian counterpart to boost the business competitiveness, prevention of fraud, eliminate delays and facilitate the movement of goods and people among others between the two countries.

The transit data exchange programme, which was piloted in May 2017, was fully deployed on July 28, 2017 to expedite cross-border trade among the two countries while deepening regional integration initiatives and protocols to bring the West African community together.

The historic exchange collaboration is seen as a key move to addressing transit related challenges in cross border trade and serve as a huge boost to revenue mobilisation while eliminating barriers that militated against easy movement of goods across the borders of the two countries and change the face of transit trade in the sub region’s corridors.

The initiative is in fulfilment of a World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement on exchange of data between Customs administrations of countries to facilitate transit trade and also in fulfilment of the Abidjan - Lagos Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (ALTTFP) launched in 2007.

The Project was approved by the World Bank in 2010 and was expected to witness a fifty percent improvement in cross border trade between Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire when operational.

Prior to the launch of the Transit Data Exchange programme, a five member team from the Ivorian Revenue Authority and their GRA counterparts had been discussing full interconnectivity arrangements between the two Customs Authorities. The discussions focused on areas such as Exchange of Transit Data, Enforcing Post Clearance Audit, Ensuring an improved Warehousing System and Post Entry after Clearance among others.

The Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr. Isaac Crentsil commended the World Bank and GCNet for their commitment and support to the project which will help address the challenges in transit trade as espoused by the Vice President during the Port Efficiency conference.

He noted that initiative would address a major challenge of transit trade, serve as a boost to facilitate paperless regime in Ghana. He pledged the commitment of the Customs Division to ensure that project succeeds.

General Manager of GCNet, Mr. Alwin Hoegerle noted that Information Communication Technology including e-solutions have become important enablers of innovations and development the world over.  However, in his estimation, Ghana was yet to take advantage of the full benefits of e-solutions, which would revolutionize our economy. 

‘It is for this reason that GCNet has been at the forefront of playing a pioneering and leadership role in deploying e-solutions in the trade facilitation environment’ Mr. Hoegerle assured.

There was a live demonstration of exchange of transit data by the Operations team of GCNet led by A Deputy Manager, Mr. Anthony Nkansah. The exchange programme is expected be replicated in the other corridors of the sub region including Togo and Burkina Faso as a way of deepening the compliance of the exchange of trade data among Customs administrations.

The data exchange program between Ghana Customs and Cote D’Ivoire is timely as it has commenced on the heels of the just ended 2017 World Customs Organisation IT Conference and Exhibition in Tbilisi, Georgia on the theme: The Power of Data – Advancing Border Management.

In a related partnership, GCNet has facilitated the deployment of the e-health project – a web based Electronic Health Management Information System (eHMIS) which sits on GCNet’s robust and tested electronic tier three data platform.

According to Mr. Alwin Hoegerle, GCNet’s mandate as a technical partner to the GRA has resulted in the deployment of e-solutions for the automation of GRA operations and deepening the single window platform for trade facilitation and business competitiveness.

This partnership over the years keeps growing and blossoming into different projects one of which is the web based Electronic Health Management Systems (eHMIS). The Electronic Health Management Information system is deployed by GCNet in a public private partnership with GRA and GIZ. This pioneering initiative by GCNet is seen as an extension of the paperless concept to the health sector in Ghana.

Commissioner General of GRA, Mr. Kofi Nti (middle), Commissioner of Customs Mr. Isaac Crentsil, (third from left), Board Chair of GRA, Mr. Harry Owusu, (third from tight) and Director General of Ivorian Customs (fourth from left) in a group photo after the launch of the transit data exchange system