The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved $3.1bn for the modernisation of the operations of the Nigerian Customs Service.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, spoke on the anticipatory approval after the virtual meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
She said a firm, E. Customs HC Projects Nigeria Limited, would handle the project, concessioned for a period of 20 years.
Ahmed added, “The main objective of the project is to completely automate every aspect of the customs business and to institutionalised the use of smart and emerging technologies that will enhanced the statutory function of the Nigerian Customs Service in the areas of revenue generation as well as trade facilitation and enhancement of security.”
The minister further stated that the Public Private Partnership arrangement was led by Messers Y Technologies, which had four other members.
She said, “The committee that led this process also looked at the National Trade Impact process that has been going on for years and confirmed that the Nigerian e-customs project is a subset of the National Trade Impact and would prefer the Nigerian Customs to play its lead role in the national trading platform.
“The Bionica Technologies West Africa Limited, Bargain Securities and Supplies Nigeria Limited, these are lead sponsor and co-sponsor. We also have The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as the lead financier and Huawei Technology as a technical service provider.
“So, council today ratified Mr. President’s approval for the PPP concession for a 20-year period to Messers E. Customs HC Project Limited as a concessionaire for the delivery of customs modernisation project.
“This is a project that will not have an immediate cost to the government, the investors are providing all of the financing and this revenue will be deployed in three phases and they will look over the investment in the concessionary period of 20 years.
“The key point is that it is not costing the federal government one thing, the $3.1bn being proposed will be sourced by the sponsors and the partners.”
She noted that while it would appear that the NCS was automated, a lot of its operations were still done manually.
Ahmed stated, “This is an end-to-end automation of all of Nigeria’s Customs Service processes and it’s going to bring huge value to the country.
“So, this investment of $3.1bn is broken down into capital investment of $1.2 million which will be done in three phases over 36 months by these investors and $1.1m is our projection of the operational cost over the 20-year period of the implementation of this project.
“This project has the potential to yield up to $176 billion of revenue for the project and the consortia that are providing this investment are going to be paid over time according to the schedule that is negotiated for their investments including their profits and cost.
“So, this is the best possible way for Nigeria to roll out important capital project using funds from the private sector and providing service for the use of Nigerian people and the government.”
The e-Customs Project will cover the deployment of e-Customs Production Applications including Production Applications include e-Clearance, e-Port System, Risk Control Centre (RCC), Logistics Management System (LMS), Electric Cargo Tracking System (ECTS), Intelligent Gate (i -Gate) and Mobile Enforcement (ME).
The memo the minister presented to FEC on Wednesday, read partly, “To ensure that there are no interruptions of the e-Customs Project, a critical part of the Project will include the deployment of Integrated Power Supply Solutions on all NCS sites.
“This will be enhanced through the development and deployment of Cyber Security Networks for all NCS Data Centers, as well as a Monitoring and Communications Systems, which will consist of Intelligent Video Surveillance and Unified Communications Systems.
“Finally, the e-Customs Project will introduce advanced and faster X-ray scanners at the airports, seaports and land borders to assist NCS improve clearance efficiency in order to meet trade facilitation needs.”