Automation of Egyptian customs shows that growth lies in the speed of exports and imports (by Mazen Abualghanam)
By Mazen Abualghanam, Project Manager at Webb Fontaine (www.WebbFontaine.com)
In any business, speed is a factor. Whether a business is a large enterprise or a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), its profits, consumer satisfaction, and ability to grow are tied to how quickly its operations can be completed. Business growth rates, in turn, fuel the GDP of the countries in which they operate and, more broadly, of the continent. If the speed is negatively affected, growth is blocked and economic growth is retarded. Nowhere is this clearer than in the import/export industry, its global supply chains having been affected in recent years by multiple factors.
Technology and free trade are key to Africa’s growth
The ease of movement of goods is an integral part of economic growth, and Africa is well placed to reap the benefits, thanks to two important factors. Advancements in technology, growth in connectivity and automation have already boosted many industries in Africa (https://bit.ly/3rxHAtA), and through public-private partnerships they are also helping to accelerate the flow of goods to and from the mainland. If the ease of regional and international trade improves, the intra-African trade figure could be significantly higher than the current 15.4%.
Some experts put the economic growth driven by digital transformation in Africa at US$180 billion, and if trends continue, it could reach US$712 billion by 2025.
The example of Egypt
An example of this can be seen in the partnership between Misr Technology Services, Webb Fontaine and the Egyptian government (https://prn.to/3SFCCH6). In a deal signed in 2021, Webb Fontaine was chosen to lead a project to provide a newly upgraded National Integrated Risk Management (IRM) service at Egyptian ports and borders. The project is intended to support Egypt’s growing trade and customs sector, which has ambitions to grow and become one of the most advanced cargo handling and shipping destinations in the region.
The IRM, which uses state-of-the-art technology including machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), not only covers the Egyptian customs authority, but also other government agencies involved in regulating cross-border trade. The IRM is working on a “trigger system”, to advise and implement the inspection, examination and processing of export and import goods by a specific agency or customs. It draws on an ever-growing database of importers and exporters, and their goods and services, to expedite customs procedures, labeling certain goods for “green lanes” (which move fast) and “red lanes” (which require inspection), based on each stakeholder’s compliance history and other indicators.
Customs officers have all the necessary data and documentation relating to freight and suppliers on a platform that is constantly evolving and updated thanks to user feedback. The platform developers are aware that when new requirements or challenges in supply chains are encountered, stakeholder feedback is listened to, considered and applied.
The speed at which goods can now cross the border into Egypt has been significantly improved with this automation of customs processes. In fact, the project has proven to be so successful that it was rolled out in August 2022 to cover all ports and borders in Egypt. There will be a tangible impact, as legitimate and compliant goods will no longer be held for hours or even days, which can have detrimental effects throughout the supply chain. For example, trucks carrying goods that incur additional fuel, time, storage, and possibly parking costs due to delays, will cause the products they carry to be more expensive by the time they arrive at their destination. With the success of this project, many of these logistical issues will be alleviated.
Egypt’s partnership with Webb Fontaine and Misr Technology Services has paid off for the import/export industry and is an example that clearly shows that collaborations like this are good not only for companies and customs, but are vital for the growth of the economies of African nations. .
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Webb Fontaine.