Moving goods across borders in Nigeria entails dealing with various government agencies with overlapping mandates, discouraging trade and hindering competitiveness.
Recognising the need to improve this trading environment, the Alliance brought together the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), other government agencies and private sector actors to streamline key import and export processes. Initially focused on improving air cargo operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, our initiatives have helped to lay the groundwork for scaling up trade facilitation reform in Nigeria at a national level.
Comprehensive documentation and inspections are vital to ensuring that cross-border traders comply with regulations and fee payments, while also promoting consumer safety. But compliance also adds time and cost for both public and private sectors. In Nigeria, the costs associated with import and export documentation are among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
International traders must often provide the same information numerous times to different agencies, increasing the administrative burden of cross-border trade as well as the scope for errors. In addition, they may face multiple physical inspections of their goods by different agencies, creating significant delays to shipments.
What We Did
In partnership with private sector terminal operators and freight forwarders at MMIA, the Alliance supported and facilitated formal consultations involving various border control agencies to improve coordination among them. This was complemented with extensive trainings to build capacity in all actors to appreciate and drive forward trade facilitation reform.
The Alliance also helped produce a policy paper providing advice on how regulatory agencies at borders might better coordinate their activities. To improve relations between business and government, we hosted numerous public private dialogues, at national level as well as at MMIA.
The Alliance’s work in Nigeria has had immediate, positive impacts. Private sector stakeholders, particularly freight forwarders, have confirmed the sustainability of private sector engagement, with formal consultations taking place independent of Alliance involvement. These regular dialogues have increased trust among border control agencies and with the business sector.
The inter-agency consultations at MMIA have improved communication between actors, helping to clear up blockages and address obstacles hindering cargo clearance. For example, the piloting of new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for joint inspections of cargo has paved the way for faster clearance times for goods and a more benign working environment. These SOPs are now also being presented to decision-makers for potential roll-out to other border posts. Increased trust among agencies also bodes well for closer collaboration. In 2023, the NCS and the National Drag Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) signed a memorandum of understanding, promising future cooperation at national level.
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