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EXPLAINER: What Nigerians should know about trade modernisation project

One of the major challenges facing revenue generating agencies in Nigeria is the inability to deploy critical technology in blocking leakages and improving efficiency. This…

One of the major challenges facing revenue generating agencies in Nigeria is the inability to deploy critical technology in blocking leakages and improving efficiency.

This is why financial experts in different fora have called for a robust deployment of technology to boost revenue growth in the country.

Particularly, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) through its Trade Modernisation Project (TMP) has revealed that it will generate about $250 billion when the project is fully deployed.

The NCS, which stated this on Tuesday, said the project includes the automation of its business processes to simplify and enhance the experience of stakeholders in the trade value chain, making it easy to obtain import and export clearances, pay duties and obtain the release of goods.

About the project

The Customs Trade Modernisation Project is a $3.2 billion public-private partnership, which entails that the concessionaire will handle the project for a 20-year period.

It was signed on May 27, 2023 between the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by NCS Board, and the Trade Modernisation Project Ltd.

Daily Trust reports that the Customs modernisation project is targeted at checking fraudulent activities in trade operations, as traders can monitor all the processes using the software.

It commenced in 2022 and the sole aim to is digitise the entire Customs operations at the ports and make duty collections seamless through the Unified Customs Management System (UCMS)

It also consists of seven working groups, which include Software development workgroup, Geospatial workgroup, Project management workgroup, Networking and telecom, Server and cloud working group, Cyber security and the Non-intrusive workgroup, which is cargo scanners.

The project is expected to contribute to the significant growth in the revenue profile of the federal government, targeting $250 over the life span of the concession.

Findings show that phase one of the project covers years one to six where all systems must be deployed including hardware, software, and technology services.

Phase two covers years seven to 13 where the concessionaire continues to manage, maintain and replace components as needed.

The third phase 14 to 20 years remains a significant phase where TMP limited will take a back seat while customs officers would take charge after six years of hands-on training in implementation.

On why the project is relevant, NCS’s National Public Relations Officer, CSC Abdullahi Maiwada, said the trade modernisation project will aid trade facilitation, efficiency in customs delivery, which remains the essence of trade modernisation.

“The project is just about simplification, standardisation, harmonisation and automation of processes and procedures. It is part of our efforts to ensure that we facilitate trade and effectively collect revenue for the federal government and enforce fiscal policies of the government in terms of anti-smuggling and other responsibilities.

Specifically, he said under the Unified Customs Management System, the service would be able to scan 200 containers within an hour, adding that this would significantly aid the decongestion of the nation’s ports,”

Also providing more insights, Ahmed Ogunsola, the General Manager at Trade Modernisation Project (TMP) Limited, a Bergmans’ subsidiary that is the concessionaire to the Nigeria Customs Service Modernisation project noted that by the time the project is fully implemented, it will cover all areas of customs activities, including duties collection, clearance operations and suppression of smuggling,” he said.

Ogunsola, added that the TMP has been built foolproof against cyber-attacks adding that the TMP was built with the latest security network gadgets to ensure its safety and integrity.

He described the system’s software as the Unified Customs Management System (UCMS), which has seven layers of security built to resist cyber attacks.

On the ease of revenue collection, he said “The TMP is the automation of the business processes of the NCS to simplify and enhance the experience of stakeholders in the trade value chain as it is expected to ease export and import clearances in paying duties and obtaining releases of good, adding that the project was incorporating high level of security for its operations.

“We are operating seven layers of security in terms of building the software to be deployed and we are working with one of the leading cyber security firms in the world to ensure the safety of the software.

“Similarly, there is a code level cyber security analysis of the software as well. Before any code that is written for the software is pushed into the software, it analyses and assesses it. In fact, we are developing the ISO 27001 information security standard; that is the highest you can get in the world,” he further explained.

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