New Senegal ePhyto Project to Digitise Certification Processes for Plant Exports, Cut Processing Time as Much as 50%

Alliance initiative will save time and money for businesses and boost Senegal’s trade competitiveness

The Government of Senegal and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation have launched a new project that will automate and digitise the certification process associated with exporting plant products, saving time and money for Senegalese businesses, and strengthening the country’s trade competitiveness.

Currently, traders exporting plants or plant products from Senegal must obtain a paper phytosanitary certificate to show that the goods are free from pests and comply with plant protection regulations. Once implemented, this project will enable Senegal to use automated systems to issue, control, and exchange phytosanitary certificates electronically, reducing the risk of erroneous, lost, or damaged documents resulting in damaged or spoiled produce.

Electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhytos) are exchanged by participating countries through a central hub – quickly, accurately, and at a low cost. The use of ePhytos – an initiative of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat – could trim the three-day window typically necessary for obtaining a paper phytosanitary certificate by as much as 50%, according to interviews with exporters and Senegal’s Department for Plant Protection (DPV).

For Senegal’s economy, that savings will have an outsized impact. More than 80% of Senegal’s fruit and vegetable exports go to the European Union. Yet, despite its importance, the EU has been seen as a difficult market for exporting companies to access due to restrictive standards and regulations, which limit the number of Senegalese products exempt from phytosanitary certificates.

Agri-food businesses make up nearly half of Senegal’s industrial sector, and 90% of these are micro, small, and medium enterprises. Many of these smaller businesses struggle with the complexity and costs posed by meeting phytosanitary standards for export. This project will benefit them by simplifying these processes and reducing the expense. It will also improve Senegal’s trade competitiveness, particularly for plant products, representing more than 10% of Senegal’s total export volumes in 2020.

“The implementation of the ePhyto solution will be of paramount importance for Senegal because it will provide the infrastructure to exchange electronic phytosanitary certificates,” said Pape Massar Fall, Senegal DPV’s ePhyto coordinator. “The establishment of this international platform will facilitate the exchange between the countries that are connected to the IPPC hub and contribute, amongst other things, to reducing the problem of fraudulent documents.”

The Alliance has already gained valuable experience supporting the implementation of the ePhyto Solution in Morocco and has other similar projects underway in countries including Ecuador, Jordan, and Madagascar.

“This latest initiative by the Alliance works in tandem with an existing effort in Senegal to digitise import processes for seed shipments,” said Philippe Isler, Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. “By addressing import and export procedures, these projects will boost the productivity and competitiveness of Senegal’s agricultural sector and increase its fruit and vegetable exports.”

In Senegal, the DPV is the project’s primary partner and is responsible for implementing the project.