Tuesday, May 30

Gambia hosts WCO-WCA forum of directors general

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By Binta Jaiteh &MSS

The 29th World Customs Organization for West and Central Africa Region director’s general forum opened here Thursday.

It is under the theme “Nurturing the Next Generation by Promoting a Culture of Knowledge Sharing and Professional Pride in Customs”.

President Adama Barrow, in his opening remarks on Thursday, said the theme of the two-day forum was quite captivating and thought-provoking, and “mirrors the aspirations of the African continent to strengthen South-South cooperation in our collective drive for self-reliance and the attainment of our development goals”.

The Gambian leader said, with the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area by the African Union, the need to share knowledge continued to increase by the day.

He noted the capacity enhancement of Customs Administrations for use as a basis to further develop the knowledge and skills required to tackle the challenges that plagued the continent.

He pointed out that through cooperation, African Customs Administrations could work together more efficiently and effectively to deliver better results.

“Indeed, cooperation is a sure means of developing and applying joint solutions to remove barriers that hinder progress,” he said.

“We recognize the crucial role that Customs plays in promoting economic growth, ensuring national security, facilitating international trade, collecting data, and protecting our environment and cultural heritage.

“To register greater results in these areas, it is critical to take steps that would adequately prepare and equip the next generation of Customs officials to ably face the challenges of the future,” he said.

President Barrow stated that this was achievable only through a culture of information, knowledge, and data sharing, “which is essential for the development of Customs officials and the efficacy of our systems”.

Customs administration is constantly evolving, so new generations of officials must be kept up to date with the latest developments and trends, he said.

According to him, by sharing knowledge and experiences, it was easier to learn from one another and adapt to changing circumstances more quickly and effectively.

The Gambian leader also said in addition that, given the laudable contribution of Customs services to the world, knowledge sharing was necessary to promote a culture of professional pride, value, and respect within the sector.

He noted that this conference provided an opportunity for Customs officials to engage with the wider community, learn from their experiences, and celebrate their successes, which was a source of motivation for excellence in service and an avenue to sustained performance and bigger achievements.

“Nurturing the next generation by promoting a culture of knowledge sharing and professional pride cannot be achieved overnight. It requires sustained efforts from everyone in the Customs profession, from the Directors General to the lower-level staff.

“As we look into the future, we must continue to invest in the development of our human resources to ensure that the sector personnel have the requisite knowledge and skills and maintain a sharp sense of pride in their profession.

“By doing so, Customs services would remain a fundamental and respected part of our national and international socio-economic structures,” President Barrow pointed out.

He commended the World Customs Organization for the critical role it is playing in promoting global trade by facilitating the movement of goods across borders and ensuring the safety and security of member states.

He also said the WCO had provided tremendous support to The Gambia Revenue Authority over the years through technical assistance and capacity building, adding that this had significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of The Gambia Revenue Authority, hence leading to significant growth in international trade revenues.