Webb Fontaine has officially been recognised for its support to the Ethiopian Customs Commission (ECC) in its effort of digitalising its border and trade management systems.

Webb Fontaine, the leading provider of solutions for trade facilitation powered by the latest technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, won a tender in 2015 for the implementation of its Customs System as part of a vast reform program initiated by the Ethiopian Customs Commission.

Currently, the system is operational in 27 Customs offices of the country and automates the transit operations across 14 corridors; to date, the system has considerably decreased clearance time and has enhanced transparency and control.

Webb Fontaine’s systems have also contributed to an increase in Government revenue by a minimum of 25% since the phasing out of the legacy system Asycuda two years ago; since then, a total of USD 4.4.b in duties, taxes and associated trade and border fees have been generated through the system.

Following this successful roll out, Webb Fontaine was therefore awarded the prestigious ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ in recognition of its contribution in digitalising the country’s Customs services.

In addition, the latest achievements associated with the integration of specific system physical distancing features has grandly assisted ECC in fighting against the spread of COVID-19.

The project

Webb Fontaine’s team of international experts and technicians were on the ground for 3 years in Ethiopia to assist ECC staff with the deployment of Webb Fontaine’s eCMS that was designed and customized for this project and rolled out across all operational ECC stations in Ethiopia. it is also available online for all trade users (carriers, declarants, companies, etc.)

The fully paperless e-system caters for social distancing rules without hindering the capacity of customs officers to assess and access submitted documents. In addition, ECC removed the need for physical submission of documents by adopting Webb Fontaine’s facevet Officer Desk module, allowing full digitalisation of documents.

Customs administrations of Djibouti and Ethiopia are currently exchanging more than a thousand of transit forms daily, which are directly integrated in their respective Customs system, allowing readily paperless monitoring of transit, both by road and train.

Debele Kabeta Commissioner, Ethiopia Customs Commission said the system was designed following a thorough Business Process Analysis, prepared by the Ethiopian Customs Commission (ECC) and the software system was developed by both the ECC project team and Webb Fontaine in order to provide an efficient, predictable and transparent Customs administration, able to generate customer satisfaction, and a perfect balance between Trade facilitation and control over internal and external Trade.

“I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to ECC project staff and Webb Fontaine who developed the software,” he said.

Ababu Emeru Project Manager, eCMS Project, congratulated all those who invested their efforts and time in the achievement of the project, especially the project teams (both teams from Webb Fontaine and the Commission), and the National team members for their commitment and dedication, who were able to overcome all challenges and who fought for the success of the project.

“Lastly, I would like to communicate this simple message to all stakeholders involved in the international Trade who are impacted by the system: eCMS is a great system, if we own it we will be able to perceive and understand its value and importance. If we know its value we will surely appreciate it and use it fully. If we use it, we will harvest the expected benefits, which at the end means we will all have achieved our objectives. So let’s own it and optimally use it!,” he said.

Pascal Minvielle Executive Director from Webb Fontaine, said the project was challenging but rewarding experience for Webb Fontaine and the ECC project team.

“We are proud to have installed our first-class Customs System in the two most populated countries in Africa: Nigeria and Ethiopia. To receive the ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ is a great honour, and the huge investment of the company in terms of resources and know-how has been acknowledged by ECC.”

The Ethiopian administration has fully embraced the concept of electronic customs and its role in bringing the country at the fore for competitiveness and trade facilitation in the region.

The project is of importance to Ethiopia and the country’s aspirations to improve its ability to import, export and trade with other nations. Ethiopia is one of the most populous nations on the continent, with 116 million inhabitants. With half of its population being less than 20 years old, the potential for economic growth in the near future is huge.

The Ethiopian economy already owns one of the highest growth rates in the world, with its borders handling increasing volumes of transactions, whether import or export, necessitating the need for a system that is powerful enough to control and manage this movement of goods efficiently and with ease.

“The system was proven to be a great fit, providing the administration with a tool flexible enough to facilitate transactions in an always changing environment while also keeping its robustness and a greater level of control,” said Minvielle.

The design, introduction and implementation of Webb Fontaine’s eCMS has brought about a wide range of improvements to the way EEC performs daily tasks. Among which:

  • Cross-border exchange of information to facilitate transit operations with Djibouti
  • Fully transparent and electronic tracking of transit movements across the country
  • Advanced risk management techniques
  • Automated controls on import and exports
  • Electronic manifest processing at the airport
  • Comprehensive Valuation system
  • Reporting mechanisms
  • Partial release/exit of goods
  • Digital submission and verification of documents
  • eCustoms processes with no physical interaction between traders and officers

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