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WCO organised 28th Conference of Directors General of Customs of the West and Central Africa Region

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BRUSSELS : The 28th Conference of Directors General of Customs of the WCO West and Central Africa (WCA) Region was held on 26 and 27 May 2022 in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.

The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, joined the 22 Heads of Customs (out of the 24 that make up the WCA Region) who had accepted the invitation extended by the Director General of Customs of the Republic of the Congo, Dr. Guenole Mbongo Koumou, in his capacity as Vice-Chair for the Region. This Conference rounded off the series of WCO regional meetings held ahead of the Policy Commission and Council sessions which are to take place in June.

The Conference was aimed at evaluating progress with the implementation of the Region’s Strategic Plan and the recommendations made by the Directors General of Customs at their 27th Conference, which took place virtually on 30 November 2021. It was also convened to examine the reports of the WCO Secretariat, the Office of the Vice-Chair, the regional entities and the regional (IT) working group, as well as to review a draft proposal to restructure Members’ contributions to the regional fund and discuss other emerging topics.

H.E. Pierre Mabiala, Minister of State, Minister of Land Affairs and the Public Domain, delivered the inaugural address on behalf of the Prime Minister; he recognized the vital role played by Customs administrations in State affairs and called on all those present to participate actively in the deliberations.

In his opening remarks, the Vice-Chair for the Region expressed his satisfaction at the massive attendance of his peers and guests at this Conference, and highlighted the need to further strengthen the status of the regional entities which, in his view, play a key role in supporting Customs modernization in the Region.

The WCO Secretary General, in his opening remarks, thanked the authorities of the Republic of the Congo for their hospitality, before outlining the WCO Data Strategy and inviting participants to rise to the challenges of this year’s theme, namely “Scaling up Customs Digital Transformation by Embracing a Data Culture and Building a Data Ecosystem”. Later in the Conference, he delivered a keynote speech covering the items on the Agenda of the upcoming Policy Commission and Council sessions, aimed at addressing the concerns raised by Members during the regional consultations on the Strategic Plan. In this context he touched upon various topics that the Secretariat has been working on, including Green Customs and Fragile Borders.

The Conference chose Nigeria as the Region’s next Vice-Chair and, to represent the Region on WCO bodies: Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Policy Commission, Gambia for the Finance Committee, and Togo and Cameroon for the Audit Committee. These selections will be presented to the Council for endorsement in June.

A major highlight of the Conference was the opportunity to welcome Equatorial Guinea to the WCO’s WCA Region, following its recent accession to the Organization. In this regard, the Conference recognized the efforts made by the WCO Secretary General and the Directors General of Customs of Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Guinea and Nigeria in bringing Equatorial Guinea into the WCO family.

Dr. Kunio Mikuriya was appointed Commander of the Congolese Order of Merit by the President of the Republic of the Congo, and accordingly decorated by the Grand Chancellor of National Orders.

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