1st WCO East and Southern Africa Regional Research Conference held in Harare

WCOThe first World Customs Organization (WCO) East and Southern Africa (ESA) Research Conference took place in Harare, Zimbabwe on 4-5 June 2014. The event was organized by the WCO ESA Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) and hosted by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) provided funding.

Opening remarks were delivered by Ms. Christine Msemburi, the Executive Director for the WCO ESA ROCB in Nairobi, Kenya; Mrs. Anna Mutobodzi, the Acting Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority; Mr. Happias Kuzvinzwathe, Customs Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority; Mr. Robert Ireland, the Head of the WCO Research Unit in Brussels, Belgium; and Professor C. Hope Sadza, Founder and Founding Vice Chancellor of the Women’s University of Africa.

Following their selection in response to a Call for Papers, eight research papers were presented at the conference by representatives of Customs administrations, the private sector, and academia from the ESA region. The research focused on topics linked to trade facilitation, including information and communications technology (ICT), risk management, transit systems, measurement, and Customs-Business partnerships. The research papers will be consolidated and published in an e-book.

The work of the researchers was supervised by Mr. Creck Buyonge, Adjunct Associate Professor (Revenue & Customs) at the Centre for Customs & Excise Studies, University of Canberra, and Mr. Mark Goodger a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban) and the University of Cape Town.

Ms. Msemburi congratulated the researchers for their sustained efforts and contributions to building knowledge on Customs matters in the region. “We need to be ruthless and honest as we write about ourselves so that we build a factual body of knowledge in Customs for East & Southern Africa” said Ms. Msemburi.

Mr. Ireland commended Ms. Msemburi for her leadership in organizing the conference. “This successful event is another step forward for the global Customs community in conducting research through systematic inquiry and consideration of local conditions in order to better inform policy formulation and implementation” said Mr. Ireland. Source: WCO

Latest Edition – World Customs Journal

Just in time for the Christmas holiday break! A new edition of the World Customs Journal is now available and, per usual, offers a number of excellent papers on current issues and demands facing Customs and Border Control agencies. Professor David Widdowson, editor-in-chief, and head of the Centre for Customs & Excise Studies (CCES) at the University of Canberra, Australia makes some poignant remarks about customs education, research and the application thereof in the modern world –

World Customs Journal - Sept 2011“one very clear message for me is the need to ensure that our research remains demand-driven rather than supply-driven, otherwise it won’t be valued or, worse still, it won’t even be read by those who could potentially benefit from it. In this regard, there is a need to monitor the effectiveness of what we do – to what extent is the theory being translated into practice? To what extent are academic efforts and activities found to be useful by the WCO and its member administrations? To what extent are research findings being applied in a practical sense? This is, in itself, a fertile area for future research.”

These are very pertinent views given the volume of students undertaking these courses, who in many cases work in customs environments (at home) which are seemingly both oblivious and ignorant to the importance of academic knowledge and human intellect. With so much importance and bias on the ICT nowadays, the technical skills and attributes of what makes a good customs and border control official are relegated to secondary importance. Please read the articles

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