In progress

Simplifying compliance procedures

Reducing time and cost of documentation processes in six key economic sectors


The challenge

Traders moving goods across Nigeria’s borders often have to provide the same information numerous times to different border agencies, increasing the administrative burden of cross-border trade as well as the scope for errors. What is more, they can face multiple physical inspections of their goods by those different agencies, causing significant delays to shipments at the border.

Comprehensive documentation and inspections are a vital part of ensuring traders comply with regulations and fees and that consumers of imported and exported goods are kept safe. But they also make trade more time consuming and costly for both border agencies and businesses. In fact, the costs associated with import and export documentation in Nigeria are among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

What we are doing

The Alliance brought together the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and other regulatory agencies active at the border, as well as businesses and terminal operators, to improve import and export operations at the air cargo terminals of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.

The Alliance catalysed dialogue between public and private sector stakeholders working at MMIA to define and target two priority areas to improve airport processes: upgrading cargo security through better access management to sensitive areas, as well as introducing joint inspections to speed up clearance procedures for imports and exports.

Towards the end of the project, trainings on these revised procedures will take place for border staff and private sector stakeholders.

Local businesses, in particular freight forwarders, play a crucial role, advising on how the processes are working in reality, proposing solutions and providing data to help measure results. Global companies are supporting the project by providing expertise and insights into international best practices.

The target result

The project aims to:

(a) improve cargo security at the cargo terminals by focussing on access management;

(b) reduce time and cost for businesses in the clearance process by introducing joint inspections of Customs and other government agencies; and

(c) improve public-private cooperation and dialogue.

The potential impact

Reducing the time and cost of trade can create a better business environment in Nigeria and unlock inclusive economic growth that benefits the government, businesses and consumers alike.

In the longer term, simpler and more cost-effective trade can make Nigerian businesses in key sectors such as manufacturing more internationally competitive, helping local small businesses to grow and increasing employment.

Simpler processes and more transparency can also increase levels of trade compliance and support revenue collection for border agencies.

The project is establishing a culture of regular meetings and cooperation between Nigeria’s various border agencies and putting in place a strong mechanism for business to play a part in driving reforms. In this way, it lays a solid foundation for future public private collaboration that can create a better trading environment.

Project structure

  • Workstream 1: Joint Inspections

Document and formalise joint inspections; change management and institutionnalisation

  • Workstream 2: Security / Access Management

Improve security and access management

  • Workstream 3: Public-private consultation and cooperation

Ensure that public-private consultations and dialogue are sustained beyond the lifetime of the project

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