NEWS & EVENTS
Malian Freight Forwarders and Customs Prepare SIGMAT Communications Campaign
In March, members of Malian Customs’ SIGMAT project team met with members of the Bureau of the National Federation of Freight Forwarders of Mali (FETRAM) to discuss the launch of a SIGMT Mali communications campaign. During the meeting, FETRAM oﬀered to issue a manifest for SIGMAT operationalization to the Customs Directorate, conﬁrming its commitment to trade facilitation and accompanying trade measures. For optimal cooperation, FETRAM also recommended that Customs further explain the SIGMAT mechanisms to forwarding agents in subsequent meetings.
The Regional Customs Network for Transit Trade—or SIGMAT, for short—is a Customs Interconnection Project that aims to use information technology to facilitate trade, transport, and the free movement of goods within the region.
It oﬀers huge beneﬁts to governments, ﬁnancial institutions, and the private sector by paving the way for shared information, data in real time, reduced waiting times, and increased revenue thanks to reductions in transit and transportation costs.
The TFWA Program is exploring how to support communications eﬀorts around SIGMAT and has agreed to help launch, promote, and publicize SIGMAT in Mali. The TFWA Program aims to build visibility and recognition of the SIGMAT project among decision-makers, economic operators, and the general public by supporting the implementation of a national communications plan. The program will also continue enhancing collaboration between stakeholders in the Malian trade facilitation ecosystem and looks forward to launching SIGMAT across additional markets in West Africa.
NTFC Mali Hosts its First Training Sessions on the Maturity Model
As part of the implementation of its work plan, in particular the component relating to the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, the TFWA Program has initiated discussions with the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) in Mali. These discussions led to the organization of five training sessions between December 11, 2020 and February 24, 2021. These sessions are the first since the establishment of the NTFC-Mali by Inter-ministerial Order N-0934/MCC/MEF/MT-SG of April 5, 2009.
All five sessions focused on presenting the TFWA Program’s Maturity Model and the self-evaluation of NTFC-Mali based on that Maturity Model. Three virtual sessions, facilitated remotely by the TFWA Program, focused on the presentation of the Maturity Model, its stages, and the technicalities of the self-assessment. The two face-to-face trainings were focused on the practical exercise of the NTFC self-assessment. These two sessions took place at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment Promotion on February 17 and 18, 2021.
The workshops aimed to support the NTFC-Mali by:
- Identifying a benchmark of progress in relation to its level of maturity;
- Supporting the operationalization of its mandate through the conception and development of an action plan; and
- Regularly monitoring the progress of the maturity level.
The training was attended by all NTFC members, including a Ministry of Women representative.
It was highly appreciated by the audience and enabled participants to:
- Assess the founding text of the NTFC-Mali in relation to standard and good practices in this area;
- Propose corrective actions so that the NTFC-Mali can meet the standards, in particular: the clarification of the mandate of the Permanent Secretariat, the constitution of the NTFC’s working groups, the inclusion of gender CSOs, and the creation of an exchange link between the AfCFTA and Doing Business; and
- Assess the level of effort to be provided at each stage of the Maturity Model.
The next steps are:
- Consolidate the NTFC-Mali self-assessment report and transmit it to the TFWA Program;
- Develop and enact new text incorporating the proposed corrective actions for NTFC-Mali;
- Develop an action plan, which is validated and assessed; and
- Draft an annual activity program, including the provision of technical assistance needed to operationalize and strengthen the NTFC in Mali.
Training of Trainers on SIGMAT Underway
From November 30 to December 4, 2020, the training of trainers on the Interconnected Management System of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT) was held in the meeting room of the general directorate of customs of Mali. The training was attended by many directors including the customs deputy director, customs administration central directors and customs staff, presidents of the freight forwarders associations of Mali, and the president of the Mali customs union.
Hosted in Bamako, the main objective of the workshops was to provide adequate training to around twenty customs technicians that will then be responsible for building capacity of Malian customs staﬀ throughout the country. The ultimate goal is to use these trained ambassadors to make SIGMAT operational in all goods transit and destination oﬃces.
By the end of this ﬁrst training session, attendees obtained extensive knowledge of SIGMAT and the application system for computer agents and system technicians.
This will allow the customs administrators to:
- Share information and data in real time;
- Improve waiting times;
- Increase revenue by reducing transit and transport costs;
- Increase customs revenues; and
- Facilitate and secure international trade.
The next step will be to extend the training to other customs oﬃcers throughout the country. This next stage will build capacity with customs agents and customs brokers at the main pilot sites prior to the launch of SIGMAT on the Bamako-Dakar and Bamako-Abidjan corridors. Looking forward, these sites include the towns of Diboly, Kayes, and Kati on the Dakar-Bamako corridor, and Zégoua, Sikasso, and Bamako/Faladié on the Abidjan-Bamako corridor.
Dakar-Bamako logistics strategy presented
Following the inaugural meeting of the National Monitoring Committee (NAC) in February, The TFWA Program convened a workshop with Senegalese and Malian project partners to present the Dakar-Bamako Logistics Strategy. The strategy used a data-driven approach to reveal the underlying flow and pattern of goods along this important trade corridor. Additionally, the strategy outlined how infrastructure could be developed to support and improve trade flow. In fact, previous TFWA Program diagnostics, such as the Corridor Assessment Report and the Small-Scale Cross-Border Trader Survey, had highlighted how longer transit times along corridors greatly affect trade facilitation and economic opportunities.
Aware of the key regional and national issues at stake with improved infrastructure, both Mali and Senegal were receptive to the TFWA Program’s presentation and findings. As a result, these markets could explore reopening discussions on the location of the dry port. This strategy, if jointly applied, could enable more targeted and cohesive infrastructural planning and reforms—progress in line with the TFWA Program’s second component, which stives to promote the efficient and improved movement of goods along selected corridors.
Bilateral Meeting Brings Together Key Stakeholders from Mali and Senegal
From February 17 to 20, the TFWA Program hosted a successful bilateral meeting between IT experts from Senegalese and Malian customs to advance activities required for the Interconnection of their IT systems (SIGMAT-GAINDE). Held in Dakar, representatives from the Senegal and Mali Management Committee of the Dakar-Bamako Corridor participated in the four-day session, as did Senegal’s Customs Director General. Representatives from the Chambers of Commerce from both Mali and Senegal were also invited to attend, though only one representative from Mali came to the meetings.
Both customs IT teams have been proactively supporting implementation, using a chronogram of activities to guide their work. During the meeting, attendees discussed these activities in an effort to advance the interconnection agenda. The meeting also provided an opportunity to show that GIZ and the World Bank are working jointly to implement this project.
Looking forward, GIZ and the World Bank will continue to work together to ensure proper support under the TFWA Program umbrella. As next steps, based on their chronograms, customs in both countries need to provide formation, communication, and sensitization efforts to field staff. Per the current situation, the customs agencies are trying to deliver these efforts virtually. Additionally, GIZ is responsible for delivering the equipment required in support of this effort.
Dakar-Bamako Corridor Project Action Plan Moves Forward with TFWA Program Support
On February 7, the first meeting of the National Monitoring Committee for the ‘Improving the Competitiveness of the Dakar-Bamako Corridor Project’—a project that falls within the framework of the TFWA Program—took place. The meeting focused on reviewing and validating the joint committee's plan of action while also planning priority activities arising from the plan.
A number of influential stakeholders attended the meeting, including representatives from the Ministry of Investment Promotion Private, Small and Medium Enterprises, and National Entrepreneurship. The meeting provided an opportunity for attendees to outline deadlines for each activity to be implemented. As a result of this meeting, some of the activities listed in the work plan were reformulated, paving a clear path for implementation. Additionally, meeting participants agreed to insert a new activity—relating to the ECOWAS brown map—into the work plan. Meeting attendees agreed that the TFWA Program team would serve as the plan’s next reviewer, with a view to inserting activities from its Dakar-Bamako corridor action plan.