Webb Fontaine Group

Webb Fontaine goes east!

addis

In May 2015, Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) launched an international bid [EuropeAid/135382/IH/SER/ET] under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance to acquire an Electronic Customs Management System (eCMS) in replacement of the legacy ASYCUDA++ system, introduced thirteen years earlier by UNCTAD.

In July 2015, the Ministry of Finance of Ethiopia selected Webb Fontaine Holding (WFH) as the winning bidder among 10 different preselected vendors. The corresponding contract was signed in November 2015 by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, ERCA, Webb Fontaine and was endorsed for financing by the Head of Cooperation, European Union, Addis Ababa.

This marked a new era for Webb Fontaine which, for the first time, stepped in East Africa to deploy its flagship product, now highly acclaimed Customs automation system: TradeWorldManager™ (TWM).

Project activities started in December 2015 and a pilot site is already in preparation for June 2016. The TWM system will operate in both Amharic and English languages and will automate all Customs processes including Transit facilities across the main corridors.

TWM rich client interface will be used within Customs while a revolutionary Webb Fontaine Trade Portal interface called Trade Point Manager will be used for traders to monitor their import and export processes and submit transactions online.

Since 2012, ERCA have initiated a program for complete reform and comprehensive automation of its operational processes and services delivery.

Known as “Cradle of Civilization”, Ethiopia is setting its vision on the Future. The second most populated country in Africa and the 7th economy in the continent is focused on maintaining its double digit GDP growth. As in any developing country the international trade sector is the pulse of the economy.

Ethiopia faces a unique geographical challenge. Despite its vast land-mass, which is third in Africa, the country is landlocked with no access to the sea. To address this challenge the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) have set up bilateral transit agreements with neighboring countries, including Djibouti, strategically located on the horn of Africa, 600 Km from Addis Ababa.

A cornerstone of GOE’s economic strategy is rapid industrialization paralleled with sustainable growth in agricultural sector. GOE provides multiple Export Promotion incentive schemes to attract foreign investors (FDIs) for setting up industrial enterprises for local market and export.

ERCA is the government agency in charge of tax and customs administrations. ERCA is tasked with execution of GOE’s core economic and fiscal policies and strategies. The main axes of these strategies are automation, business process simplification, streamlining of procedures, trade facilitation and enhancement of risk management capabilities.

The current legacy ASYCUDA++ system has reached its limitations in terms of functionality and technology.   Instead, Webb Fontaine TradeWorldManager provides a declaration processing module which supports scanned documents, hyperlinks to other documents such as receipts, manifest, etc. the use of tariff specification codes, Vehicle Identification Numbers, transit, exemptions with quota management, licensing with quotas, a dynamic Risk Management system, an offence module, multiple workflows and many other features in line with best practice and international standards.

The user interface available in Amharic and English uses the latest technologies such as biometric authentication, barcodes reading, mobile devices applications, digital signature. The solution provides external clients such as traders, customs brokers, carriers and freight forwarders with the Trade Point Manager facilities such as web-based secure internet portal. The system is highly configurable for defining at the front-end business and taxation rules, reference tables, national and customs office configurations.

TWM like ASYCUDA++ utilizes standard reference tables recommended by WCO, UNCTAD and other international bodies. This among other factors has considerably smoothed out the transition from ASYCUDA++ to TWM.

Included with TWM deliverables is the implementation of Government Executive Vision (GEV), a unique tool for real-time Customs operations monitoring and revenue analysis accessible by Customs executives and senior governmental officials. GEV integrates a risk profiling and alerting tool which sends automatic SMS/E-mail messages in the event of threat for revenue or suspect consignment. The GEV system is currently migrated to Big Data Hadoop technology.

The project plan incorporates an extensive capacity building component. This covers all aspects of the implementation such as system use, configuration, report generation, and platform maintenance. Webb Fontaine will leverage its strongest assets which is a pool of Customs experts with experience spanning several countries with years of experience in reform and automation.

The project initialized its activities with an awareness and functional training workshop for an assigned national team from ERCA from multiple disciplines within the organization. The 10 member project team was trained for two weeks on TWM basic operations and configurations. The team acquired Train the Trainer expertise and hands-on exercises which enables them to propagate and implement TWM throughout ERCA and its customer Trade community.

Webb Fontaine experts along with an assigned national team visited major customs branches, HQ directorates and stakeholders such as National Bank of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Airlines, and others. In order to assess and design an optimum solution for the Transit corridor with Djibouti, Webb Fontaine experts along with national team visited Djibouti Customs authority and Ports. The envisaged solution will involve a web service XML interface between the two customs authorities which will facilitate and expedite transit operations. In replacement of manual multiple checks for containers and trucks along the transit route, the solution will provide truckers with bar-coded transit documents which will be processed by customs stations along the route ensuring security and speed of the shipments

The project is also targeting an implementation of a pilot in an Industrial Zone in the outskirts of Addis Ababa which will demonstrate system functionality and high end technology. The pilot will automate the operations of Export Incentive System which allows foreign companies to import raw materials duty-free for production of finished products for exports. TWM will ensure the financial security of this scheme by providing the relevant ERCA control units with tools to validate balance between raw material inputs and finished outputs. This validation is known in Customs as input-output coefficients. The TWM process in parallel will provide traders streamlined processing of the import and export operations.

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