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FEC approves $3.1bn for Customs’ automation project

Govt targets $176bn revenue, 20 years concession
Abuja, Lagos, PH, Kano airports’ towers get N13bn

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved $3.1 billion for the completion of the automation of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). This entails that processes and procedures are automated using information and technology application in all aspects of its operations.

The project will be financed, delivered and managed by concessionaires for 20 years. It is expected to generate an income of $176 billion into government coffers. T he Council equally okayed the sum of N13.122 billion for the upgrade of safe towers in Abuja, Lagos and Kano. Briefing State House Correspondents after the weekly virtual Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said the project was concessioned to E. Customs HC Projects Nigeria Limited. Ahmed said: “The main objective of the project is to completely automate every aspect of the customs business and to institutionalize the use of smart and emerging technologies that will enhance 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 also disclosed that the consortium, the PPP Group, approved for the project, are led by Messers Y Technologies with four other members. Ahmed, who said that the committee that led this process also looked at the National Trade Impact process that has been going on for years, also confirmed that the Nigerian e-customs project was a subset of the National Trade Impact and would prefer the Nigerian Customs to play its lead role in the national trading platform. She named The Bionica Technologies West Africa Limited, Bargain Securities and Supplies Nigeria Limited, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as sponsors with Huawei Technology as a technical service provider.

“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 $3.1 billion being proposed will be sourced by the sponsors and the partners,” Ahmed said. According to the minister, “The $3.1 billion to be provided by the concessionaire is broken down into capital investment of $1.2 billion which will be done in three phases over 36 months by these investors and $1.1 billion 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 project, when implemented, will encompass among other things 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 presented to Council indicated that the e-project will ensure a seamless co-ordination of all NCS operations through the development and deployment of e-Enforcement Platform with Unified Communications, Intelligence Video Surveillance (IVS) to facilitate mobile customs operation. According to the memo, “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 Centres, 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.” Other listed benefits of the e-Customs project, according to the memo, include facilitation and hastening of the urgently needed optimization of the NCS Systems which will enable trade facilitation and efficient revenue collection which will in turn enhance Nigeria’s regional and global economic competence. Also at the briefing were the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and his Aviation, Information and Culture and Communications and Digital Economy counterparts.

Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, told newsmen that the Council approved N13.122 billion for the upgrade of safe towers in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt airports. Sirika explained that the analogue systems in the airports were to be upgraded to digital to enable daily weather reports to be transmitted instantly as against the current hourly practice. Fashola, in his comments, disclosed that the Council also gave two approvals for the Gadan Zaima-Zuru-Gamji road in Kebbi State. He said the first was to ratify the emergency works that were undertaken, over seven kilometres, at N1.145 billion, and then to approve the award by the same contractor to now complete the balance of 55 kilometres which was approved also at N10.589 billion.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Patami, said FEC directed all ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) to use Galaxy Backbone for upgrade and digitization of ICT. Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, also reported that the Council approved the sum of N1,196 billion for the purchase of a headquarters for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

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