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

Picard 2012 – with a South African perspective

Over 230 delegates representing WCO Members, the academic world, international organizations, the private sector, donor organizations and other interested parties attended the 7th WCO Conference on the Partnership in Customs Academic Research and Development (PICARD) hosted by the University of Cadi Ayyad in partnership with Morocco Customs and the WCO in Marrakesh, Morocco from 25-27 September 2012.

The Conference was co-chaired by Prof. Michael Wolffgang, University of Münster, and Prof. M’barek Benchanaa and Prof. Abdullah Ait Ouahman from the University of Cadi Ayyad. The Conference focused on three main topics: The Impact of Regional Economic Integration and Preferential Trade Arrangements on Customs Services; Emerging and Evolving Risks; and Customs Strategic Human Resource Management.

The WCO PICARD Programme was officially launched in 2006 to strengthen co-operation between the WCO, universities, and Customs human resources entities such as Customs Academies. The programme’s objective is to provide a platform where stakeholders can co-operate, collaborate, and contribute to two main pillars: (1) Customs professionalism and (2) Customs-related research.

Key PICARD achievements include adopting the PICARD Professional Standards for operational and strategic Customs managers; holding six successful PICARD Conferences; and publishing many Customs-related research papers in the World Customs Journal. Moreover, a growing number of universities have obtained WCO recognition of their Customs-related academic curriculums.

The PICARD Conference has become an annual meeting place for Customs officers, Customs human resource professionals, and academics to network and exchange ideas on Customs professionalism and Customs-related research. It is an opportunity for Customs academies and the WCO Regional Training Centres to glean new ideas on human resource development. At each conference, research papers are presented; this year, papers will be presented on regional economic integration, emerging and evolving risks, and human resource management.

The dearth in Customs expertise has become an international phenomenon, and South Africa is no exception. Locally based training organisation, GMLS, has been working with the University of Kwazulu Natal, Durban and UCT in Cape Town and in Durban specifically it is expected after council of Higher education approval next year that we will be offering a full masters Degree in Customs for the first time in South Africa as a MCom Customs and Excise, says GMLS CEO Mark Goodger. GMLS is a WCO E learning trainer, an ICC accredited trainer and an approved TETA (Transport Education Training Authority Trainer).

Mark was invited as a guest speaker to this year’s Picard Conference. He explained that the WCO arranged presentations to  stimulate discussions and guidance required from the WCO in the future. Along with South Africa, presentations were also delivered by Finland, Canadian and Moroccan Customs training experts in the results of research and the status in SADC countries of recognised accredited training frameworks which can be utilized by Customs worldwide. Whilst Customs administrations are implementing the Revised Kyoto Convention and the SAFE Framework it is clear that trade will need to follow the direction of future compliance as Customs leads forward into the 21st century.