Burkina Faso looks to modernised borders

The World Customs Organisation (WCO) has met officials in Burkina Faso for talks on modernised border controls.

At the invitation of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya participated in a High-Level Meeting on Customs Cooperation and Capacity Building, held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from 10 to 12 June 2013. He also met Burkina Faso’s political leaders and visited the WCO Regional Training Centre (RTC) during his stay in Ouagadougou.

The Heads of Customs of the eight UEMOA countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo) as well as of Ghana and Nigeria gathered to discuss ways to enhance connectivity between them, with JICA’s assistance. More specifically, they shared their experience of the One Stop Border Post (Poste de contrôle juxtaposé) and discussed the challenge posed by incorporating Customs and other border control functions into a cross-border infrastructure under the UEMOA initiative.

With a deeper understanding of this project to enhance connectivity at borders, the participants agreed to institutionalise the dialogue and reflection on this topic. In addition to the UEMOA Secretariat and JICA, representatives of the African Development Bank, the UNODC and the WCO’s regional structures (Vice-Chair, Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB), Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO), RTC) attended the meeting to discuss capacity building in a wider context. All the participants were appreciative of the hospitality extended by the Director General of Burkina Faso Customs, Kuibila Jean Sylvestre Sam, and his team as well as of the experience they shared.

As part of the preparations for the meeting, Secretary General Mikuriya and the President of the UEMOA Commission, Cheikhe Hadjibou Soumaré, held discussions to explore ways to enhance cooperation between the two institutions, especially regarding the contribution of Customs to regional integration.

Secretary General Mikuriya took the opportunity of a meeting with the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, Luc-Adolphe Tiao, on 12 June and a separate meeting with the country’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Lucien Bembamba, on 11 June to express his appreciation for the continued political backing given to Customs modernisation. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy and Finance both reaffirmed their strong support for Customs reform, noting the multiple roles of revenue collection, economic competitiveness and border management performed by Customs. Secretary General Mikuriya also welcomed Burkina Faso's contribution to the WCO West and Central Africa Region by hosting the RTC, which he visited prior to his discussions with the Prime Minister. The meeting with the Prime Minister and the UEMOA-JICA High-Level Meeting were covered widely in the national media.

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