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Trade modernisation project to boost efficiency in Nigeria’s trade operations – expert



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An expert, Mr Ibrahim Yahaya, says that the Trade Modernisation Project (TMP) being implemented in Nigeria will boost efficiency in trade facilitation..

Yahaya said this in an interview on Sunday.

Our Correspondent reports that TMP is the automation of the business processes of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to simplify and enhance the experience of stakeholders in the trade value chain.

The project is a 20-year concession, with an execution agreement signed in May 30, 2022, between the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by NCS Board, and the Trade Modernisation Project Ltd.

It aims to streamline the process of obtaining export and import clearances, ease the payment of duties, and facilitate the release of goods.

The project would deploy a software described as the Unified Customs Management system (UCMS), where trade operators have the advantage to also monitor all stages of their transactions.

It will equip the NCS with state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and facilities, to transform the service into an organisation that provides efficient services to businesses and other government agencies.

The TMP is an improvement on the current system, featuring advanced capabilities such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to aid in the classification and validation of uploaded documents or data.

Yahaya, the Managing Director of Paynacle Digital Services, said that TMP would help reduce corruption in customs operations and ensure transparency and efficiency in their activities.

“It will also cut the time used in document verification. TMP will speed up the process for those importing or exporting, something that used to take 20 days can now take one hour.

“I believe that with AI in the system, it will help predict government revenue, and if there is any deficiency, it will address it,” he said.

He said that the project would aid Nigeria’s budgetary system, considering that revenue generated from NCS is a crucial source of revenue for the country.

He said that for Nigeria to advance its economic diversification efforts, TMP was crucial to boosting its integrity in attracting foreign investment through international trade.

“It will help in boosting Nigeria’s integrity in international trade because the system has undergone sanitisation,” he said.

According to him, if properly implemented, TMP would unify customs activities and management, significantly curbing corrupt practices within the system.

According to him, it will also ensure transparency and efficiency in NCS activities, particularly in checking the issuance of fake customs duty documents.

“We often see a lot of fake customs duty documents, and the mode of production and issuance is obsolete.

“Traditionally, it makes it easy for people to manipulate, but automation will help address that and improve efficiency,” he said.

Yahaya urged the engagement of experts in the implementation of the project, noting that the Public-Private Partnership would help sustain the project.

“I suggest they hire experts in cybersecurity and private companies to maintain its services,” he said.

Our reporter gather that TMP is implementing nine technical agreements with its technical and financial partners.

Access Bank Plc is the financial partner, Huawei, the lead technical partner, and CrossborderXP Ltd is the software development partner, among others.

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