Terms of reference – Project coordinator
Modernisation of customs clearing agent licensing framework – Malawi
Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation/ CIPE
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.
The Alliance, through CIPE, is implementing a project to modernize the framework for the licensing for customs clearing agents (customs brokers) in Malawi. Because customs brokers serve as the intermediary between the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA or Customs) and traders, a well-functioning border relies heavily upon brokers’ knowledge, professionalism, and integrity. Both the private sector and the Government of Malawi have underscored substantial concerns about the current licensing system and its negative impacts on trade in the country.
The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA, Customs) and private sector associations have estimated that the number of licensed Clearing agents is around 115. This is a relatively high number considering the small scale of operations where some clearing agents do not declare more than one declaration per day. The entry requirement into the profession is relatively low, relying mainly on a simple personal capital requirement of US $131. Malawi does not currently utilize a mechanism, such as an examination, to evaluate the competency of clearing agent applicants. Clearing agent training has also lapsed in the country, resulting in highly inconsistent levels of technical expertise and know-how.
The objective of this project is to support Malawi in designing and implementing a modern, equitable, robust and fit-for-purpose customs broker licensing framework. The Alliance is conducting the project through a gender lens to ensure that women derive the same benefits as their male counterparts. After the completion of the project, it is expected that:
- Malawi has a body of highly qualified, trained and efficient customs brokers who are able to facilitate faster clearance and transit of goods across Malawi’s borders.
- The government has an efficient and sustainable customs broker licensing framework
- Malawi will have implemented a fundamental and transformative category “C” commitment of the TFA, thereby boosting economic growth and reducing poverty.
The Alliance launched the project in January of 2019 and has fully implemented two of the project’s three phases as shown below. This consultancy will focus on phase III, the implementation of training and examination.
- Improving the framework (Completed) – During this phase, the Alliance assessed all elements for a modern customs broker framework to create a clear roadmap for the creation of a licensing system that incorporates a training course and an examination.
- Development of exam and training (Completed) – The new framework envisions two major parts: a training course, and (2) a subsequent compulsory examination for existing and prospective brokers. This phase developed such a training course in association with MRA, the customs broker association(s), and the broader private sector including those outfits identified to lead training and exam implementation.
- Implementation of training and examination (Expected completion: June 2022) – The examination and training will be a new condition introduced into an existing established industry. The project will gradually phase them in to avoid disruption.
The project is directly supporting Malawi in implementing Article 10.6.3 of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which Malawi has determined to be a “Category C” commitment. This article states “with regard to the licensing of customs brokers, Members shall apply rules that are transparent and objective.”
To support the implementation of the project, CIPE wishes to hire the services of a local Project Coordinator who will work closely and cooperatively with the Malawi Revenue Authority, the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA), the project’s working group, and the rest of the Alliance team to ensure timely and adequate implementation of phase III of the project.
2. General objectives
The objective of this position is to provide local coordination and day-to-day management of project activities under the supervision and control of the CIPE Senior Program Officer to ensure the successful and efficient implementation of phase III of the “Modernisation of Licensing for Customs Clearing Agents” project.
3. Scope of work
The position’s activities shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Developing in-depth knowledge of the overall project activities and the Alliance’s overall mission and objectives.
- Providing project management services to facilitate the day-to-day implementation of the Project in Malawi in accordance with the Alliance’s goals and under the supervision and control of the CIPE Senior Program Officer;
- Leading Project activities, with emphasis in stakeholder management and communication, in coordination with Malawian government officials and under the supervision and control of the CIPE Senior Program Officer.
- Liaising with government officials, private sector stakeholders, and relevant non-government organizations, consistent with CIPE and Alliance compliance requirements, to ensure their full support throughout project implementation and identify bottlenecks and challenges as early as possible, and reporting to the CIPE Program Officer regularly on these activities
- Constantly monitoring the implementation of the project and proactively suggest corrective actions as needed.
- Providing support to the Project Working Group, organizing and minuting public-private meetings (note: meetings may be virtual depending on COVID-19 restrictions).
- Maintaining regular communications with the Project Coordinator of the CIPE/Alliance customs brokers project in Zambia to identify synergies and opportunities for collaboration.
- Hosting missions from CIPE program management and international technical experts supporting the project’s implementation.
- Coordinating all monitoring and evaluation activities and supporting the collection and analysis of data on the progress implementation of the project.
4. Specific activities
It is expected that the consultant will conduct, as a minimum, the following activities:
- Update and manage the project plan and other monitoring tools and documents as needed.
- Provide project updates and activity outlook during weekly statuses with Senior Program Officer, weekly CIPE team meetings, and other fora as requested.
- Arrange consultations with the private and public sectors throughout the execution of the project.
- Provide technical and logistical support to any individual consultant or consulting firm hired during the implementation of the project, especially the identified training/examination institution, the Malawi Polytechnic.
- Prepare monthly and quarterly progress reports highlighting the activities conducted, challenges faced, propose solutions, and monthly and quarterly objectives.
- Support the development of terms of reference for the activities identified in the project plan.
- Review deliverables produced by consultants or any other stakeholder and provide feedback as needed.
- Prepare, maintain and follow up on meeting minutes.
- Co-lead project review exercises designed to adjust, organize and streamline project procedures/schedules/plans, highlighting the activities that will impact on project implementation.
- Monitor progress on all activities, deliverables and outputs identified in the project and identify and propose corrective actions if needed.
- Ensure effective coordination between MRA, private sector representatives from CAFAAM and ICCAFA, the Alliance team, and any individual consultant and consulting firm hired during the implementation of the project.
- Bi-weekly meetings with the Zambia Project Coordinator
- Participate in Project Working Group meetings of the Zambia project.
5. Duration of assignment
The duration of the contract is twelve (12) months full time with the possibility to extend depending on performance and project status. Expected start date: November 2021.
6. Reporting arrangements
The selected candidate will report to CIPE’s Senior Program Officer for Trade. The candidate will also work closely with the Chair of the Project Working Group.
7. Administrative and logistical arrangements
- Candidates should already reside in the Southern Africa region, ideally in or around Blantyre, Malawi.
- Office space will not be provided by CIPE
- Meeting space for monthly Project Working Group meetings will be provided on a rotational basis by the members of the Project Working Group in Blantyre, Malawi
8. Payment schedule
The selected candidate will submit invoices monthly to CIPE for approval and payment. CIPE will make payments upon receipt and acceptance of said invoices.
9. Technical profile of candidate
- Minimum Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Law, Economics, Business, Information Technology, or another relevant field.
- At least 5 years demonstrated experience in project management
- Demonstrated experience in donor-funded project implementation and coordination desired
- Demonstrated experience working for or with Malawi government agencies is preferred
- Familiarity with the Customs Clearing Agent industry and the role and responsibilities of a Customs Clearing Agent desired
- Sound working knowledge of project management techniques, tools and software.
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite
- Experience working both independently and in a team-oriented, collaborative environment is essential
- Strong written and oral communication skills in English
- Legally authorized to live and work in Malawi
To apply for this opportunity, please send a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time, October 16th, 2021. Include in the subject line: “GATF Malawi Project Coordinator – [NAME]”.
Any and all questions should be communicated in written form before the due date above to the email addresses. All responses will be publicly available at cipe.org.
11. Evaluation methodology
Evaluation of an applicant’s suitability for this consultancy will be based on the applicant’s technical background as provided on the resume and cover letter as well as the applicant’s financial requirements as stipulated in CIPE’s biodata form (to be collected from shortlisted candidates only).