The Problem Statement
Nigeria remains the only country without the Single Window platform in Africa, trailing behind other African countries in the automation of processes at the seaport when compared to other African countries, she is lagging on most developmental plans. Lack of logistics to position containers on time for physical examination, delay in locating containers booked for physical examination, frivolous arguments amongst government officials at the port, rickety trucks for transporting goods, bureaucracy in signing documents etcetera. This and many more led to the Federal Government introducing the National Single Window Policy.
The Policy Solution
In 2019 Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and chief executive officers of government agencies in the maritime sector restated the Federal Government’s plan to establish a national single window (NSW) at the ports to facilitate clearance and export of goods.
The establishment of a Single Window system is a complex political reform project. While it is well recognized as an enabling tool for easing trade across borders, policymakers will confront many challenges and obstacles when transforming the vision and goals of a Single Window into reality.
Window planning implementation, concern both technology issues, and areas such as political support, long-term commitment from top management, a reliable institutional platform for inter-agency collaboration, effective management of stakeholders’ expectations and perceptions, workable business procedures, architectural models, data, and business interoperability, laws and regulations, and financial issues. Policymakers and managers need a strategic and holistic framework that helps them to systematically address such challenges and to effectively manage the Single Window project.
International trade is a key component in the expansion of Nigeria economy, the Nigeria Customs Service intends to facilitate the process of conducting a cheap and quick cross- border trade through the introduction of a National Single Window (NSW). To develop an innovative NSW that promotes efficient trade, improves safety and security, and increases revenue, NCS adopted a holistic approach that includes all regulatory, financial, transport, logistics, and commercial procedures in its scope.
Recognizing the need for technical expertise in this area, NCS partnered with Single Window (SW) experts, namely West Blue Consulting, to conduct a feasibility study (including a gap/needs analysis and a proof of concept) in February 2012 for the NSW program focused not only on Customs functions but on all procedures relating to the global trade supply chain – the UN/ CEFACT Buy-Ship-Pay Model. The UN/CEFACT Buy-Ship-Pay Model describes the main processes and parties in the international supply chain, which ensures that goods are ordered, shipped, and paid for while complying with regulatory requirements and supporting trade security.
As each country has its own unique trade environment, it is important to understand Nigeria’s trade supply chain strengths, weaknesses, and priorities, to ensure an effective, organic development approach to Nigeria’s SW environment as opposed to a ‘copy and paste’ approach. The aim of the NSW program is to establish the current baseline benchmarked to international standards, identify areas that require strengthening and build capacity and awareness in NCS, and among key stakeholders in order to formulate a master plan and a road map a solid foundation for the implementation of an NSW.
NIGAC Constructive Position/ Take
Single Window is set up to allow the exchange of information between traders and government agencies, and amongst government agencies, for trade relevant procedures such as obtaining permits and licenses, certificates and necessary approvals, customs clearance, and port exit. The issue is Nigeria is yet to grow through the processes of facilitating a standard Single Windows Trade. It requires a data exchange between government authorities and economic operators and a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single-entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.
A Single Window can be an important trade facilitation tool if implemented effectively, for a Single Window project can achieve the following benefits for the government as a whole: increase in government revenue, enhanced compliance with rules, improved efficiency in resource allocation, better trade statistics, For economic operators, such as traders: faster clearance times, a more transparent and predictable process and less bureaucracy, For an administration such as Customs: improved staff productivity through the upgraded infrastructure, increase in customs revenue, a more structured and controlled working environment, and enhanced professionalism, For the national economy as a whole: improved transparency and governance and reduced corruption, due to fewer opportunities for physical interaction.