This year the World Customs Organisations (WCO) has placed the younger generation at the heart of global customs transformation. As such, the WCO prescribes that customs administrations around the world be intentional about nurturing the younger generation to take up the mandate of promoting security, international trade and revenue collection.
The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has demonstrated its desire to align with this objective.
Speaking on the Eye on Port program, a Principal Revenue Officer at the Customs Laboratory, Samuel Akrofi says the WCO agenda aligns with Ghana’s Customs Administration’s own objective of creating an avenue for inter-generational exchange that will collectively harness the strengths of the older generation and the newer crop of officers.
“There are two bands of customs officers. The first band which is made up of old, experienced officers who have built competence and expertise over the years and have certain skills developed over a course of time, what we call the tacit knowledge. The other band is made up of young officers who are IT-savvy, very energetic, ambitious, environmentally-conscious but lack in tacit knowledge. It is necessary for the systematic transfer of knowledge so that mistakes that have been done in the past are not repeated,” he articulated.
He said it has become even more crucial for the capacities of younger crop of officers to be nurtured in tandem with newer requirements in customs administration.
According to him, the responsibilities of customs administration has evolved to a point where security and protection of the environment and society are core due to global trends of increased awareness on sustainability and the war on terror.
As such it has become incumbent on customs administrations to build capacities along the lines of detecting and mitigating threats to security as well as environmental and social sustainability.
Indeed, he intimated, the Customs Division of the GRA builds the capacity of its staff in light of this.
“In addition to the SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade, the WCO Programme Global Shield, the Strategic Trade Control Enforcement (STCE) Programme, programmes on Illicit Financial Flows and a host of training programs are taken.”
Mr. Akrofi said the World Customs Organisation requires customs administrations within West and Central Africa to make use of big data, neural networks and artificial intelligence, in respect of growing threats of crime and terrorism in the region.
A former President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Joseph Agbaga touching on the same subject, echoed the need for both bands of officers to collaborate towards creating a sustainable, high yielding path for the younger group of officers.
He however urged “policy holders to make available sufficient funds to take care of the requisite capacity building.”
Agbaga calls for collaboration between customs administrations in the advent of increased suspicion of cross-border terrorism.
“Before any goods live any shore, it must go through customs, so the ability of customs administration in an exporting country to share data with the importing or transiting country is very crucial. That is how we can win the first hand intelligence about what goods are being carried across borders.”
He also called for tightened cooperation between private sector and public sector, especially customs, to guard the gates of countries against contraband, and illegal or unacceptable goods and products.
“If the owner of goods or shipper is able to collaborate with the exporting country’s agencies that are responsible to authenticate what is being shipped, when that information is able to reach the destination country on time, they will have the ability to analyze to see whether these goods are genuine or contraband. Sharing of data is very key.”
He urged nations that trade among themselves to augment the database they share with each other. Similarly, he called for mitigating measures that will ensure that cargoes cannot be tampered with, when in transit.
Concluding his submission, the Former President of GIFF expressed desire to see Ghana’s Customs Administration stay committed to international conventions that border on trade facilitation.