By Omar Bah
A seventeen-member delegation from the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, has paid a courtesy call on the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to familiarise with the operation of the GRA and pick up lessons to improve upon customs services in Nigeria.
The visit is also meant to discuss issues surrounding the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which is expected to create the largest free trade area in the world, as measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at $3.4 trillion.
In the absence of Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe, the delegation led by Chief Customs Officer Henry Abumere Eromobor was introduced to GRA deputy commissioner general Essa Jallow and senior staff.
The team leader, Mr Eromobor, informed the GRA top brass that the visit is meant to familiarise themselves with its operations.
The GRA deputy commissioner, Essa Jallow, said the GRA is delighted that the college chooses to learn from its operations.
Jallow noted the important economic role Gambia and Nigeria play in the sub-region. He mentioned various collaborations between the two countries that have helped improve service delivery for both states.
The GRA, he added, has received unprecedented support from Nigeria in the areas of human capital development.
He said the GRA has always had very close relations with the Nigerian customs administration. DCG Jallow said African countries should always endeavor to learn from each other for easier implementation. He informed the delegation that the GRA has undergone a series of reforms to improve its service delivery and prepare for the implementation of the continental free trade.
“The Africa Continental Free Trade requires that we prepare our institutions to be able to meet its demand,” he said.
Mr Jallow disclosed that the GRA is working on getting its own customs school in The Gambia. He said during the process of establishing the school, the Nigerian college will be consulted for guidance, especially in the areas of preparing a curriculum.
The commissioner of customs, Alhagie K Mbye, encouraged both customs officers to learn from each other during the visit.
“Together, we can shape the future of customs administration in the 21st century and continue to strengthen the ties between our two nations. During your stay with us, I want to assure you that our doors are always open and our support is readily available. Our team is dedicated to ensuring that your visit is productive, enlightening, and beneficial. Feel free to engage with our customs officers, exchange ideas, and explore our customs processes and procedures,” he said.
He said customs administration has evolved over the past years, moving from just issues of tax collection to serving as an important pillar in facilitating international trade. Commissioner Mbye said the GRA has taken up reform agendas that seek to improve the movement of goods and facilitate improved tax collection. He informed the Nigerian delegation that the country has also migrated to the Asycuda world, which provides a user-friendly service.
“We have also developed the customs broker policy. We are also on the verge of launching the single-window initiative,” he said.
A presentation was made on the operations of the GRA by its director of technical services, Yahya Manneh.