Terms of reference – IT Advisor – Colombia

The Alliance is looking to hire the services of an IT Advisor to support its project in Colombia.

Terms of reference – IT Advisor

 Modernisation of the Colombian Institute of Agriculture and Livestock

Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation/ CIPE

1. Background

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a public-private partnership for trade-led growth, supporting governments in developing and least-developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. Alliance projects cut through red tape and end costly delays at borders by bringing together governments and businesses of all sizes as equal partners to deliver targeted trade reforms.

The Alliance is led by the Center for International Private Enterprise, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the World Economic Forum, in cooperation with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It is funded by the governments of the United States, Canada, Germany, and Denmark.

On behalf of the Alliance, CIPE is implementing a project to modernize the Colombian Institute of Agriculture and Livestock (ICA) and reduce the time and cost to import and export agricultural products by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of ICA.

The overall objective of the project is to reduce the time and cost to import and export agricultural and livestock products under ICA’s purview by designing and deploying a robust risk management system. The project is divided into two major components:

  • Component 1 – Strengthening ICA’s Risk Management
    This component will support ICA to develop the necessary processes, expertise and systems to differentiate between low-risk and high-risk shipments of agricultural and livestock goods. ICA’s risk management approach is characterized by a high level of physical inspections and high discretionary powers while detection rates remain low. With this component, the Alliance team aims to strengthen the focus and attention to specific high-risk shipments while low risk shipments are facilitated.
  • Component 2 – Implementation of the ePhyto
    This component will help ICA connect to the IPPC hub using its own national system and seamlessly issue, modify and exchange ePhytosanitary certificates with National Plant Protection Organizations worldwide.

Although ICA implemented a risk management system in 2016 for imports of agricultural and livestock products (known as SISPAP), this system is consistently underutilized and it does not enable ICA to fulfill its mandate of ensuring the safety of agricultural and livestock products, preventing the spread of plagues, protecting public health, and reducing time and cost for importers/exporters.

ICA has made efforts on an ad hoc basis to exchange ePhytos with the Pacific Alliance countries and the Netherlands. Most recently, in December 2020, ICA carried out an ePhyto exchange test with Argentina which highlighted the agency’s needs to meet the standards required by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The agency lacks the necessary technology and resources to improve its own national system and be able to exchange certificates with the approximately 120 countries connected to the IPPC hub, including Colombia’s main trade partners such as the United States of America and the European Union.

Most of the phytosanitary certificates are currently issued in hard copy and are transferred between importers/ exporters and government agencies by post or courier. These exchanges can take up to 10 days depending on the country of origin and are prone to errors, loss, theft and counterfeiting. The lack of a standardized and efficient ePhyto system in line with IPPC standards may cause serious delays in completing import/export process and may result in spoiled goods, additional demurrage charges, and frustrated customers and governments. Online applications are not available, and verification of certificates from importing countries is difficult and time consuming.

To support the implementation of the project, CIPE wishes to hire the services of an Information Technology Advisor who will work closely with the Project Team, ICA, Colombian Customs (DIAN) and other relevant stakeholders to ensure timely and adequate implementation of Component 1 and 2 of this project.


2. General objectives

The overall objective is to support the implementation of all project activities related to new technologies by providing technical advice to achieve the desired objectives in terms of time and cost reduction. Overall, the IT Advisor is expected to determine whether the risk management system (SISPAP) can be adjusted to implement the new risk management strategy or whether it is more cost effective to develop a new system; and analyse and recommend necessary changes to SISPAP, hardware, new data sources, and interoperability enhancements within ICA’s extensive software ecosystem. Also, the IT Advisor is expected to develop a strategy to deploy the ePhyto solution and determine the necessary changes to the hardware, software architecture, security protocols and data schemes needed to develop the solution and connect it to the IPPC hub


3. Scope of work

The IT Advisor is expected to work closely with the risk management specialist responsible for the identification of the functional and business modifications and ideal strategy to strengthen ICA’s risk management system. IT Advisor should also review the existing information technology capacities and overall software ecosystem at ICA and gain a deeper understanding of the main gaps, challenges, and opportunities for improvement to strengthen ICA’s risk management system. In addition, the IT Advisor will be responsible for the coordination of all IT related activities to the deployment of the new ephyto system at ICA. The IT Advisor is expected to work closely with the ephyto specialist who will be supporting ICA in all non-IT aspects (human resources, regulatory framework, processes) of the new ephyto certificate.

Key activities include:

  • Become familiar with ICA’s existing systems architecture and technology infrastructure for risk management and phytosanitary certification as well as ICA’s ability to implement and maintain new systems.
  • Lead the technical dialogue on technology between ICA and the Alliance, and advise both on the different market solutions to modernize risk management and develop an electronic phytosanitary certification system in line with IPPC recommendations.
  • Monitor the work of risk management and phytosanitary specialists and work closely with them to gain an understanding of bottlenecks and recommendations to modernize the risk management system and develop an electronic phytosanitary certification system.
  • Participate in virtual or face-to-face meetings with the project team and other actors and specialists hired to support the implementation of the project.
  • Review in detail all the deliverables by risk management and ephyto specialists and propose different strategies to implement these recommendations either through the development of new systems, the use of new technologies, infrastructure and equipment, or the improvement of current systems including, if necessary, the interoperability of the multiple databases that are part of the network of systems used by ICA.
  • Draft technical documents that facilitate the digital transformation of ICA necessary for the modernization of its risk management system and the implementation of phytosanitary electronic certification. These documents can include for example data management models, use cases, governance structure and data management, terms of reference for hiring IT companies if necessary
  • Identify the main deficiencies and gaps in technology (including the provision of human resources in ICA’s technology department) that may prevent ICA from modernizing its risk management system and implementing a modern electronic phytosanitary certification system.
  • Prepare monthly activity reports describing the main tasks performed.
  • Carry out any other activity related to the consultancy that the CIPE Officer deems appropriate.


4. Selection criteria and characteristics

The estimated total budget for the assignment is USD$ 108,000. Travel budget will be funded separately. The estimated duration of the assignment is 18 months.

Evaluation will be based on the following factors:

  • CV and Relevant work experience of the provider (70%)
  • Financial proposal (30%). The financial proposal will be made in USD and will include all expenses necessary for the implementation of the consultancy (including taxes). If needed, ICA will provide a physical space with internet connection in case the consultant is based in Bogotá.


5. Public official disclosures

Proposals should disclose whether any owner, senior officer or manager, or key employee of the provider is a public official or related by blood or marriage up to second-degree to a public official. “Public official” includes, a person holding a legislative, administrative, military, or judicial office for any country, an employee of a government-owned or controlled enterprise, an official of a public international organization and/or an official of a political party.

The fact that a public official is employed by or associated with an applicant will not disqualify a company from consideration, however no proposal will be considered unless it includes this information.


6. Application requirements

Candidates are requested to submit a response by October 9, 2021 to tradejobs@cipe.org and fbakija@cipe.org, Senior Program Officer, Trade Team, with the subject line “IT Advisor – Colombia”

Required Skills and Experience:


  • University degree in information technology, engineering or similar. A master’s degree in relevant areas with consulting such as systems engineering, data technology, statistics or mathematics is desirable.

Professional experience

  • Professional experience of at least 8 years in the field of new technologies including, but not limited to: Information and data architecture, systems integration and interoperability, data management, data science, digital transformation, digitalization and optimization of business processes, project management of information systems and / or data, in the public or private sector.
  • Solid working knowledge of IT systems and experience in performing process reengineering activities, such as: hardware infrastructure, platforms and software integration in languages such as. PHP, .Net, Phyton and Sql Databases, Mysql, Maria DB and Oracle, Azure Cloud computing, big data analytics, predictive business intelligence and analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, business intelligence and data analytics.
  • Technical understanding of predictive modelling and process optimization with the use of data-driven digital technologies that could be applied to trade facilitation initiatives and guidelines recommended by international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Customs Organization and the World Bank Group.
  • Desirable experience and familiarity with programs funded by international donors.
  • Proven experience working with government agencies in Colombia will be considered as an advantage.

Other knowledge and skills:

  • Excellent proven oral and writing skills Spanish, with excellent analysis and synthesis skills.
  • Knowledge of the country context, development issues, trade practice and challenges.
  • Authorization to legally work in Colombia and the ability to travel within Colombia.
  • Flexible and adaptable to changing environments.