Digitalisation project to streamline agri-food trade

Cameroon taking final steps towards electronic phytosanitary certification

As part of an ambitious strategy to double agri-food exports over the coming decade, Cameroon is working to link its Single Window with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) hub, allowing the exchange of electronic certificates with dozens of countries quickly, accurately, and at low cost.

The Central African country has already taken significant steps towards full implementation of the IPPC solution but is facing challenges in introducing the necessary electronic signature technology that would enable electronic phytosanitary (ePhyto) exchange with key markets, including the European Union and the United States of America.

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) is assisting Cameroon in taking these final steps in automating and digitalising the current paper-based certification system confirming that agri-food shipments are free of pests and disease.

The Alliance is supporting the Single Window operator, GUCE (Guichet Unique des Opérations du Commerce Extérieur), and engaging representatives of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), inviting participation in training workshops and other public private dialogues.

Also, recognising the prominence of women in food production, the Alliance is reaching out to key women advocacy groups and women business owners to help ensure equal access to various activities related to this project, particularly training events.

The project, which is scheduled for completion by August 2022, will replace error-prone manual processes that can often result in spoiled goods, additional port charges, and frustrated customers.

This digital solution will produce meaningful time and cost savings for traders, particularly MSMEs that form the mainstay of Cameroon’s agri-food sector, which employs around 50% of the country’s workforce.

In addition, this project contributes to Cameroon implementing its commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which requires countries to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods.

“The ePhyto Solution will greatly improve the performance of Cameroon’s phytosanitary certification system and better position our exports on the world market,” said Gabriel Mbairobe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. “It should reduce costs for businesses and increase our country’s attractiveness to investors.”

“The Government of Cameroon has made significant strides toward adopting the ePhyto Solution, and the Alliance is proud to provide the support to help it reach the finish line and fully reap the benefits of digitalisation,” said Philippe Isler, the Alliance’s Director. “This project will speed up processing times at the border and make it easier for traders, particularly MSMEs, to compete in global markets.”