by NDABENI MLOTSHWA in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS – ZIMBABWE, occupying a strategic geo-political position in Southern African trade routes, is utilising modern technologies to promote the SMART borders concept.
Government and revenue officials said this was necessary considering the country is the gateway to the region’s North-South corridor, through the Beitbridge and Chirundu border posts.
SMART (Secure, Measurable, Automated, Risk-based and Technology-driven) borders refer security management system that can create safer, standardised and cost effective processes.
Speaking in Victoria Falls at the just-ended International Customs Day, Faith Mazani, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) Commissioner General, said the organisation had made effective use of innovative technology to improve efficiency and enhance risk management that ultimately prevented revenue leakages.
The event was held under the theme, “Smart borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.”
Mazani said the use of information and communications technology (ICT) products and systems such as scanners at ports of entry and exit, cargo tracking devices, online systems and other innovative products immensely contributed to smooth trade and travel.
“To this effect, I am proud to intimate to you that the Electronic
Temporary Import Permit project (e-TIP) has been so successful in dealing with the issue of border congestion at Beitbridge Border Post during this past festive season,” Mazani said.
The border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe is one of the busiest crossing and trade control points on the African continent.
e-TIP allowed travellers to pre-clear their vehicles online, thereby
reducing the congestion, which often worked as a bottleneck to travellers and tourists.
ZIMRA is now working at improving the e-TIP system so that visitors spend an average of between 3 to 5 minutes to get their temporary import permits processed.
The agency is also rolling out the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World, to enable clients to submit bills of entry online from anywhere in the world.
SMART borders forms part ZIMRA’s five year strategic plan (2019-2023) which includes the implementation of the One Stop Border Concept at points of entry, with Victoria Falls, bordering Zambia, becoming the first beneficiary.
This would be followed by Kazungula (close to Botswana, Namibia and Zambia), Forbes (bordering Mozambique), Beitbridge and Plumtree (to the border with Botswana).
ZIMRA is buoyed by the Chirundu One-Stop Border Post, between Zimbabwe and Zambia, which was the first one of its kind in Africa at launch in 2009.
“We are therefore mindful of the job at hand as we seek to see a smooth movement of human and vehicular traffic at our border posts,” Mazani said.
Richard Moyo, Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs, said government had prioritized the SMART border concept to achieve the tenets of the trade facilitation agreement espoused in the World Trade Organisation’s Bali Protocol and enable Zimbabwe achieve upper middle income economy status by 2030.
“Innovation and technology, which incorporate the SMART border concept, is a sure way of working effectively, in spite of limited resources,” Moyo, the Guest of Honour at the International Customs Day, said.
The governor said like in any other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, online payment systems for customs progress were the backbone of economies.
“I believe that this has significantly improved convenience to clients
through integrating online payment systems,” he said.
International Customs Day is celebrated under the auspices of the World Customs Organisation to honour and recognise the role of customs officials and border agencies in facilitating trade and travel.
– CAJ News