The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in collaboration with African Union Development Agency- AUDA-NEPAD commences the training of border officials as part of the operationalization process under the Nigeria-Cameroon Multinational Highway and Transport Facilitation Programme.
The training forms part of the capacity building programme under the MoveAfrica Traffic Light System – TLS. As the continent is geared towards trading under the AfCFTA, efficient borders are critical to the success of the AfCFTA. To that effect the TLS has been positioned as a tool that is necessary for RECs and member states to use to track the status of borders in-terms of efficiency when it comes to processing cross-border trade.
The training which was held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja Nigeria from 10th -12th August 2021, also featured the establishment of the Ekok/Mfum Joint Management Committee (JMC) for the border post which will be co-chaired by the ministries in charge of transports of the two partner States.
In attendance at the meeting were Stakeholders from Cameroon, Nigeria, ECOWAS, AFREXIMBANK, UNECA, AUDA-NEPAD, Zimborders and ECCAS.
Representing the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Infrastructure, Pathe Gueye, at the meeting, Mr. Ashoke Maliki, PPO, Roads & Railways and Project Manager of the Programme from the Department of Infrastructure highlighted the objectives of the Joint Border Post concept which is basically to strengthen the coordination and streamline procedural processes at the JBP with a view to enhance better sharing of data, revenue generation, and facilitate trade across borders.
He further emphasized that the successes of the Ekok/Mfum Joint Border Post relies heavily on the implementation of the Bilateral Agreement that clearly define their duties and what are expected of the Border Officials on the JBP. He therefore called on the JMC to study the Bilateral Agreement for better understanding of their roles and responsibilities. He concluded by urging the JMC to also study and sensitized transporters on the signed Axle Load Control Agreement between Nigerian and Cameroonian for better movement of goods across the border.
In their remarks, the representative from AUDA-NEPAD emphasized on the mandate of AUDA to promote regional projects and to work with RECs and member states in doing so, and secondly to mobilise a full range of resources to promote regional projects. Therefore the work of the Agency through its MoveAfrica programme is to develop tools to support RECs and member states as efforts are being made to expedite efficiencies along border posts. The engagement of MoveAfrica with the RECs is a clear demonstration on how AUDA-NEPAD is also engaging with the RECs in dealing with strategic and critical issues pertaining to regional integration. At the same time the Agency is equipping the RECs with the necessary tools in the long run.
Training of the border officials was drawn from the experiences from East African as well as from the Zimborders.
The training ended with the emphases on continuous training of border officials to ensure better understanding of JBP concept. The Ekok/Mfum Joint Border Post between Nigeria and Cameroon is expected to be fully operationalization in December, 2021, with the handover of the facility to both governments in a groundbreaking ceremony. AUDA-NEPAD through MoveAfrica is expected to continue to mobilise resources to ensure that the border from the onset acts as a benchmark in-terms of how Joint Border Posts also known as One Stop Border Posts ought to operate and in this case being a border that adjoins two regions ECOWAS and ECCAS respectively.