In progress

Simplifying import and export documents and procedures

Creating a better business environment for growth in Africa’s largest economy


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, businesses and terminal operators, to identify six sectors where trade is key to Nigeria’s economic growth and diversification—exports of processed leather, edible fruits and chemicals, and imports of pharmaceuticals, electronics and industrial spare parts.

We are working with Nigerian government partners, businesses and associations to identify the processes that are causing delays, devise ways to simplify them, train border agency staff and support the roll out of improved processes. The project will start with air cargo at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, before moving on to sea freight at the Lagos Port, taking lessons learned from our work at the airport and potentially broadening the scope to additional sectors.

Local businesses 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 reduce the average time and cost associated with documentary compliance for exports and imports. Once the specific processes that will be simplified are selected, the project team will collect baseline data and set target reductions at both the airport and port.

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

Phase 1

In progress

Establish project steering groups and formalise cooperation with the NCS

Phase 2


Simplify processes at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos for six target sectors

Phase 3


Transfer solutions to Lagos Port based on learnings and potentially involving additional sectors

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Jyoti Wadhwa

Jyoti Wadhwa, Founder, Sanskriti Vintage, New Delhi
Jyoti Wadhwa is a successful entrepreneur, who sells Indian handicrafts and promotes the spirit of craftsmanship through international trade. In 2010, she set up her online business, Sanskriti Vintage, to sell vintage handicraft fabrics, various types of embroidery, and other craft items. At the time, she worked from home while taking care of her child and handled all operations single-handedly. Ten years later, she employs 25 people, supporting local artisans and serving antique collectors and aesthetes all over the world.
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Paulina Abrokwah

Paulina Abrokwah, Freight Forwarder, Accra
Paulina Abrokwah works hard to keep goods moving. As a freight forwarder in Ghana, she helps businesses get the right documents, comply with regulations and transport their goods across the country’s borders. Her role ensures Ghanaian consumers can buy a wide range of products and that Ghanaian businesses can export their wares across the world. Every day she deals with shipments, from cars to electronics, sending to and receiving from as far away as Mexico, China, Brazil and Europe. “The difficulties we face now in clearing the border can make the process very stressful and that can discourage people from trading,” says Paulina.
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Sindy Sevilla

Sindy Sevilla, Founder, SB Café Los Santos, Costa Rica
Sindy Sevilla is a coffee lover and successful entrepreneur who turned her passion for coffee into a business. She founded SB Café Los Santos in 2012 when she moved to Tarrazu, a rural area of Costa Rica. “I wanted to turn my passion into a living and make an impact by empowering local people, especially women,” explains Sindy. Positive social impact is at the heart of Sindy’s business. “Most coffee is exported as green beans. We don’t sell that because we believe it is important for Costa Rica to handle most of the transformation that adds value. We want to keep the profits in the community.”
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Amgad Shehata

Senior Vice President of International Public Affairs and Strategy at UPS
UPS is the world's largest package delivery company and a leading global provider of specialised transportation and logistics services. Every day, it manages the flow of goods, funds, and information in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. “We believe that we can propel sustainable development and business performance at the same time. Helping countries to implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) allows us to do exactly that. Facilitating cross-border trade completely aligns with our customers’ needs while holding the promise of driving economic growth and creating a more equal society across the globe."
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