Small-scale cross-border traders (SSCBTs) are key economic actors in West Africa. Learn more about our work to understand existing constraints affecting SSCBTs especially women and design interventions to respond to identified constraints and ultimately make trade easier, cheaper, and safer.
NEWS & EVENTS
TFWA Program Supports NTFC Capacity-Building Workshop
In May, the TFWA Program hosted a capacity-building workshop in collaboration with the NTFC Secretariat in Abuja. The two-day session brought together members of the Nigerian NTFC, representatives of the ECOWAS Commission, GIZ, and representatives of different ministries, departments, and agencies, including: the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria Export Processing Zone, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), among others.
The workshop aimed to equip the NTFC secretariat with the skills and tools they need to effectively implement international best practices. The workshop also provided ample opportunity to operationalize the TFWA NTFC Maturity Model.
During the workshop, Bénédicte Meille, Trade Facilitation Specialist for the TFWA Program, delivered a session on inclusive project management, an essential component of the TFWA Program’s capacity-building framework for NTFCs. This work aims to strengthen NTFC’s sustainability and maturity levels. The working sessions allowed participants to work on projects deemed critical and strategic to their work, such as:
- Coordinating TF reform planning;
- Strengthening NTFC capacity to plan; and
- Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of sustainable TF measures by ensuring strategic alignment and operational coherence through an inclusive results-based approach.
The need to create robust institutional capacity and sustainability for the NTFC was identified as critical to delivering excellent technical recommendations in trade facilitation. Additionally, the workshop incorporated inclusive and gender-sensitive elements to ensure that the gains of trade facilitation reforms reach all traders, especially women small-scale cross-border traders.
Over the course of the workshop, discussions focused on ensuring the operational coordination of trade facilitation reforms across sectoral policies to secure ownership, sustainability, and relevance within the Nigeria National Development Plan (NDP). Other topics of discussion included mitigating NTFC member turnover, identifying committed human and financial resources, and pooling NTFC member capacity for shared logistics on meeting sites.
Participants also worked together to identify how the NTFC can strengthen and align its activities and progress indicators to the Nigeria Agenda 2050 and the NDP in a ‘cross-cutting manner’—this is because trade facilitation reforms in Nigeria simultaneously contribute to the chapters on business environment, trade and competitiveness, as well as equity, women, youth, and job creation, as well as digital economy, transport, and good governance.
At the same time, the workshop contributed to the preparation of the overdue WTO TFA notifications through interactive discussions on the seven technical measures in Category C with upcoming definitive implementation dates.
The completion of the workshop is expected to play a significant role in strengthening the NTFC’s work, and the TFWA Program looks forward to supporting next steps agreed in the meeting.
Team Nigeria Builds Capacity of Customs Service
From November 28 to December 2, the TFWA Program provided technical assistance to the Nigeria Customs Service. This work aimed to support project activities toward the operationalization of the ECOWAS supplementary Act A/SA/6.12/18/ of 22nd December 2018, including:
- Revision of the NCS customs cooperation strategy;
- Coordination of a workshop on the concept of customs attaché; and
- The joint elaboration of a data exchange mechanism and reconciliation between mirroring border posts with Nigerien Customs.
This initiative has the power to strengthen customs cooperation, including supporting the customs attaché in the exchange of information and data between customs authorities, risk analysis to detect fraud and Trade/Investment promotion. The training was organized under the TFWA Program, which delivered several other activities related to this objective:
- Technical interviews on the customs cooperation strategy revision session held among key departments: Legal, Strategy & Planning, ICT, Trade & Tariff, Trade Facilitation, and Intelligence.
- A training workshop on customs attaché for customs officers in the Legal, Strategy & Planning, ICT, Trade & Tariff, Trade Facilitation, Intelligence Unit, and Public Relations departments; and
- Strategy and planning meetings with top management from the Strategy & Planning, ICT, Trade & Tariff, Trade Facilitation, Intelligence Unit, and Public Relations departments.
The mission was well received and participants agreed to key next steps, including a review of customs cooperation. This entails development of a diagnostic report on the current framework for customs cooperation strategy in Nigeria Customs, as well as development of a draft formal customs cooperation strategy. In particular, NCS is committed to updating, revitalizing and managing current and future bilateral customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance agreements according to the future formalized customs cooperation strategic framework.
The huge interest shown by participants was noted and they asked a lot of questions during the session, while actively exchanging views. NCS is committed to using the sample decrees from other countries for the creation of the position of customs attaché, as presented during the workshop, to develop the necessary legal text in order to formalize the position within the Nigerian Customs structure. Next steps also include a report on the concept of the customs attaché supported by the WCO's customs intelligence management tools (CEN, RILO).
TFWA Program Holds NTFC Maturity Model Self-Assessment Workshop
On February 25, the TFWA Program’s Nigeria team organized a workshop to conduct the annual progress review of the Nigerian National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC). The review used the TFWA Maturity Model and presented the online maturity self-assessment questionnaire to NTFC members.
The maturity framework is a tool designed for NTFCs across the West African region to self- evaluate their performance in relation to good practices, integrate results based on their NTFC, and participate in effective progress monitoring in response to trade facilitation-related international and continental engagements. The one-day session was facilitated by Bénédicte Meille, Trade Facilitation Specialist for the TFWA Program, who explained trade facilitation reforms and the role NTFCs plan in trade policy- making (facilitating national consultations and operational dialogues). Specifically, she highlighted the role of the Nigerian NTFC in advancing the facilitation process through the implementation of the following activities (as stipulated in its Action Plan):
- Review trade facilitation legal framework and avoid overlapping regulatory functions
- Make strong budget commitment to operationalize the plan
- Periodically update the trade facilitation roadmap/strategic
- Mainstream trade facilitation into the Nigeria National Development
During the session, the maturity model was analyzed, and participants were asked to assess their performance (based on the three pillars). They were also asked to see where they are placed on the maturity level scale while identifying ways to be able to fulfill their mandate. Ms. Mielle gave a live demo of the online questionnaire, including log-in steps and a brief review of the questions.
“The NTFC is in a good position to influence and ensure that the recommendations you are designing within the NTFC are integrated into the bigger picture [part of the development planning policy]. This means being efficient. A well-performing NTFC ensures that public institutions responsible for trade policies adopt a coordinated, inclusive and participative approach benefitting all - male and female traders, private companies, SSCBTs.” - Bénédicte Meille (World Bank - TFWA Program)
The online tool is designed to be completed annually by NTFCs in an effort to obtain an objective overview of the Committee’s performance in facilitating domestic coordination and overseeing implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (as per its Article 23.2)
At the end of the workshop, participants were asked to test the platform, create accounts, and fill the questionnaire. Once submitted, the TFWA Program will provide recommendations to strengthen weak performance areas. In the coming weeks, ECOWAS plans to do a second session/exercise to consolidate and review responses.
NTFC Presents Nigeria’s Trade Facilitation Roadmap to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment
In June 2021, the TFWA team in Nigeria joined the Nigerian National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) to officially present the updated Trade Facilitation Roadmap to Hon. Minister Adebayo from the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI). The Trade Facilitation Roadmap represents a key step toward improving Nigeria’s trade landscape, which is one of the TFWA Program’s long-term goals for the country.
The meeting took place in Abuja, where the Minister commended the NTFC for the effort put into developing the document. In their presentation, the NTFC indicated that several factors helped ensure the roadmap’s success. These factors included: high-level political buy-in (for example, by securing the FEC’s approval); improved infrastructure at the ports; the procurement and deployment of scanners to reduce physical interventions; the establishment of the single window for trade; increased advocacy, especially as it relates to the legislative agenda; and improved border agency coordination.
As a next step, the ministry agreed to facilitate a meeting of the NTFC with other key agencies. The aim is to encourage accountability and to improve the roadmap’s visibility with stakeholders across the country. The FMITI, the Nigerian NTFC, and the TFWA Program look forward to continuing to promote this important trade facilitation resource.
TFWA Program Rolls Out SSCBT Interviews for Alternative Credit Scoring
Traders’ associations across Nigeria and Senegal were interviewed to better proﬁle Small-Scale-Cross-Border Traders (SSBCTs) and to better understanding the alternative data they generate to access ﬁnancial products and services. These interviews—initially piloted in two countries and conducted via a consulting ﬁrm—are part of the second phase of the TFWA Program’s credit-scoring study launched to improve SSCBT access to ﬁnance through tailored credit scoring mechanisms.
SSCBTs still face signiﬁcant challenges in accessing capital for their businesses and often remain unbanked, unable to obtain credit scoring, and with low-to-no ﬁnancial inclusion opportunities. These factors conﬁrm the relevance of exploring alternative means of credit scoring and aim to create the foundational research needed to encourage micro-ﬁnance institutions to oﬀer ﬁnancial products to SSCBTs. To date, the consulting ﬁrm has held several consultations with local traders’ associations with the goal of contrasting data from previous mapping exercises with alternative data usage metrics.
Additional SSCBTs from Senegal and Nigeria will be interviewed and constituted in panels before the program produces a Credit Reporting Framework. Based on these interviews, a Regional Alternative Data Landscaping Report will also be published.
IDENTIFYING CHAMPIONS FOR TRADE FACILITATION IN NIGERIA
The TFWA Program’s Nigerian team, together with Nigeria’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), held a series of discussions to identify and mobilize trade facilitation champions in the region. With this goal in mind, the team met with the Honorable Minister of State for Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment (FMITI) and, in a separate meeting, the Minister of State for Transportation to identify priority areas for trade facilitation reform. Both Ministers welcomed assistance from the TFWA Program and supported an approach that would mainstream gender in all the trade activities.
On December 9, 2019, the TFWA Program team visited Nigeria’s Ministry of State for Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment in Abuja. More than 20 stakeholders attended the meeting, which focused on the Nigerian National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) and its role in advancing the trade facilitation agenda for the country. In this meeting, the Minister of State for FMITI and the NTFC highlighted several areas of interest, including: i) outreach to producers and traders in border communities to promote formalization and compliance; ii) increased visibility of the NTFC and better internal coordination among its members; iii) support for participation in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA); and iv) accelerating progress in the implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement. They also requested TFWA Program support to enable them to review the national trade facilitation roadmap and action plan. Additionally, the ministry and NTFC requested program support in presenting their plan of short and medium-term objectives for formal presentation to CEOs of key agencies.
In a separate meeting held on December 13, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Transport identified several key areas of interest for the ministry, including a national single window, gender mainstreaming, joint border posts, and implementation of a risk management system at the ports. Specific requests for TFWA Program support included: i) a national single window, which would be a sui generis solution for Nigeria; ii) a diagnostic study on transportation to support small scale traders in border communities; iii) financial and technical support for joint border posts; and iv) diagnostics to support the implementation of risk management systems at the port.
By identifying and building relationships within both ministries, the TFWA Program team has laid the groundwork to achieve the program’s goals in Nigeria. The team will continue to work with both ministries to address these requests and advance trade facilitation in Nigeria.
BRINGING GENDER INTO NIGERIA’S TRADE FACILITATION AGENDA
On December 10, the TFWA Program team met with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Nigeria—the lead government agency for gender affairs in the nation. In line with the TFWA Program’s mandate to ensure gender is mainstreamed into West Africa’s trade facilitation agenda, this meeting aimed to introduce them to the program and its work while providing an introduction to the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) to build bridged between both organizations.
The team also met with the Economic Services Department’s team and director to discuss key priority areas and ongoing activities in the gender ministry. Specifically, the team highlighted the importance of the gender ministry being actively present in all NTFC meetings and to lead on the gender dialogue in trade facilitation for Nigeria.
Looking forward, the TFWA Program will continue working with the NTFC and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, facilitating a relationship between both organizations with the goal of mainstreaming gender in the Nigerian trade facilitation agenda.
INCREASING THE NTFC’S FOOTPRINT IN THE NIGERIAN TRADE FACILITATION AGENDA
On December 9, the TFWA Program team in Nigeria hosted a half-day workshop with Nigeria’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC). The Nigerian NTFC has been identified as the mandatory public-private dialogue mechanism established under the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Specifically, the NTFC is central to providing leadership for the TFA’s implementation. It was deemed to be a key champion for ensuring higher-level support for the trade facilitation activities being delivered by the TFWA Program and trade facilitation in Nigeria. With this is mind, the TFWA Program team has been closely engaging the NTFC with the goal of strengthening its capacity. At the same time, the TFWA Program team is working closely with the committee to mainstream gender into the NTFC’s agenda. Overall, the team aims to ensure trade facilitation measures are improved and more efficiently implemented, as mandated under result one of the TFWA Program.
FOSTERING NTFC EFFICIENCY IN NIGERIA
On December 9, The TFWA Program facilitated a half-day workshop with members of the Nigerian National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC). Hosted at the World Bank offices in Abuja and attracting more than 20 participants, the workshop aimed to disseminate the findings and recommendations of the Nigeria Gap Assessment and Reform Action Plan report, which assessed the country’s alignment with the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). At the same time, the gathering presented areas for cooperation with the World Bank and TFWA Program on trade facilitation and gender. Additionally, the TFWA Program aimed to identify potential activities to support TFA implementation in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Gap Assessment and Reform Action Plan Report was well received by the NTFC and had largely informed Nigeria’s TFA notifications. Many of the areas prioritized for implementation in the assessment remain high priorities for technical assistance. These include risk management, border agency coordination, and the single window. Looking forward, Nigeria needs to complete the domestication of the TFA following its ratification, while also revising its current TFA notifications to modify how it has categorized penalty disciplines (TFA article 6.3) and the 2020 implementation timelines for 16 measures.