OSBPs [One-Stop Border Posts] help to significantly reduce the time and cost it takes for goods and traders to cross borders, through the processing of border clearance under one roof. The OSBP Sourcebook, an operational guide to the OSBP concept, covers issues such as legal & regulatory frameworks, simplification & harmonisation of border procedures, physical border facilities, and making the best use of ICT.
Since the publication of the 2nd edition of the OSBP Sourcebook in May 2016, two major developments – the launching of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the COVID-19 pandemic – have resulted in a need to revise the Sourcebook with preparation of a 3rd edition. The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD), with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (and its consultant, PADECO Co., Ltd. of Japan), has undertaken work to revise the 2nd edition of the Sourcebook, through technical research, technical consultation meetings, and interviews and questionnaire surveys of key OSBP-related stakeholders. The overall objective is to reflect lessons drawn from practical experience in operationalizing OSBPs – especially regarding the AfCFTA and COVID-19 – in the 3rd edition of the OSBP Sourcebook.
As part of this process to prepare the 3rd edition of the OSBP Sourcebook, consultations were undertaken with various stakeholders associated with OSBPs to collect the required information. This has included a questionnaire survey, interviews, and technical consultation meetings in January and March 2022.
The first technical consultation meeting – held in January 2022 – brought together over 30 OSBP-related stakeholders and covered a wide range of issues, including (1) the concept and role of OSBPs toward the achievement of a Continental Customs Union; (2) physical facilities and ICT technology; (3) small traders and border communities; (4) health procedures and protocols; (5) legal and institutional frameworks; (6) border security; and (7) OSBP procedures and case studies. Among other issues, the first technical consultation meeting stressed the importance of interconnectivity of customs systems and other complementary interventions.
The second technical consultation meeting in March 2022 brought together about 30 OSBP-related stakeholders with discussions focused on (1) the AfCFTA, regional integration, and OSBPs; (2) COVID-19 and OSBPs; and (3) ICT and OSBPs. The stakeholders discussed the role of OSBPs in the implementation of the AfCFTA; they noted the transition toward the Continental Customs Union, and reaffirmed that OSBPs can play a role as a first step in realising an integrated Africa. The stakeholders also discussed the role of OSBPs in reflecting new challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and noted the importance of interconnectivity and the use of integrated platforms to monitor the movement of vehicles.
With about 150 comments and other inputs from stakeholders, key outcomes of the technical consultation meetings included the following:
- As Africa moves toward continent-wide integration through the AfCFTA, it is necessary to reflect this continental agenda when preparing the 3rd edition of the Sourcebook.
- It will be important to reflect health and political contingencies, which have emerged since the publication of the 2nd edition of the Sourcebook.
- Beyond hard infrastructure, there is a need to pay more attention to soft infrastructure and the needs of specific communities (e.g., informal traders) and consider how to engage more partners, with an understanding of the cross-cutting needs for trade facilitation.
- It will be important to obtain more buy-in and reach as many stakeholders as possible and disseminate the outputs of the new OSBP sourcebook for further utilization “on the ground”.
The two consultation meetings were successfully managed to create a platform of engagement with highly committed leaders and experts on OSBPs and made enthusiastic steps forward toward the publication of the 3rd edition of the OSBP Sourcebook. Of great importance, the meeting enhanced mutual understanding among OSBP implementers/practitioners on issues arising from the AfCFTA and COVID-19 pandemic. As the next step, the final draft of the 3rd edition of the OSBP Sourcebook will be presented in alignment with the needs and expectations of the various stakeholders at a validation workshop in April 2022.