Training of Trainers Seminar on One Stop Border Post (OSBP) Design and Operations was co-hosted by the AUDA-NEPAD, EAC, and JICA as a virtual event on 28-29 July 2021. This event brought together over 110 participants including representatives from RECs, Member States, government agencies, companies, think tanks, and partner organisations to share learnings on OSBP design and operational elements in alignment with the AfCFTA and COVID-19. This seminar was held as a follow-up to the “Training of Trainers and Data Collection Seminar for RECs” held in July 2019 in Kigali. During that seminar, the EAC Secretariat requested to host another seminar to enable participants to have a first-hand look and feel of the architectural design and construction aspects of OSBPs.
Based on the request and considering the challenges posed by COVID-19, the virtual seminar consisted of three main sessions concerning key issues, including: architectural design and construction of OSBPs, criteria and consideration of the OSBP facilities, border operations to respond to increased trade volumes arising from the AfCFTA, health protocols to be mainstreamed within border functions, border waste management, enhancement of boarder security, and standardisation of tracking systems.
Mr. Amine Idriss Adoum, Director of Programme Delivery and Coordination, AUDA NEPAD opened the seminar highlighting that development and provision of efficient hard and soft infrastructure provides a crucial platform for Africa to enhance economic productivity, facilitate trade, and accelerate industrialization and develop markets at the national, regional, continental, and international levels. In his remarks, Mr. Idriss Adoum informed delegates that AUDA-NEPAD and JICA are currently preparing on the review of the 3rd edition of the OSBP source book. Technical consultation meetings will, soon, be conducted targeted on Member States and RECs. He then went on to officially open the seminar and wished the delegates fruitful deliberations.
Mr. Minoru Homma, Chief Representative, JICA South Africa Office highlighted JICA’s collective efforts in Corridor Development and OSBP development in Africa, while emphasizing the importance of this seminar, which incorporates elements of COVID-19 and AfCFTA. In his remarks, Mr. Homma voiced JICA’s continuous support for the efforts by AUDA-NEPAD, RECs, and each country, with an emphasis on African ownership and sustainability, while referring to TICAD-8, which will be hosted by the Republic of Tunisia in 2022, as the second host country in Africa in its history.
Mr. Hosea Nyangweso, Principal Civil Engineer, on behalf of Director of Infrastructure Directorate, EAC Secretariat presented the importance of OSBP as a game changer in corridor performance by substantially reducing the passenger and cargo dwell time at the crossing points. In his remarks, Mr. Nyangweso provided an overview of 15 OSBPs in EAC region, referring the challenges including shortage of staff housing, which is vital for the achievement of 24/7 operations, and insufficient human resources of the border agencies. At the end of his remarks, he reiterated the significance of the TOT seminar more than 10 years after the opening of first functioning OSBP in Africa.
Session 1: Architectural Design and Construction of the OSBP
In answering the question as to what criteria and consideration in architectural design of the OSBP can be addressed in enhancing border efficiency and streamlining procedures, the presentation done by Peter Magambo, Tutu Kagga and John Matovu from EAC Secretariat, highlighted the following key issues in: architectural design criteria, examples of guiding legislation / manuals, OSBP facilities and their functionalities, COVID-19 impact on the flow of process relating private cars and public transport, and impact on the layout of the OSBP.
This session discussed the OSBP facility and its functionality to extend beyond the realisation of functional OSBP to also take into account the contribution of smooth administrative flow to health, immigration, and custom procedures. There is a growing demand for OSBP to address the social and economic impacts linked to its border operations. However, design of the OSBP with trade facilitation and infectious disease countermeasures in mind remain a challenge; this requires building green OSBP that takes account of climate change and ensures access to sustainable utilities. There is an additional need to enhance border security while setting up screening mechanism in the context where threat of international terrorism is growing. While criteria and priority on OSBP layout are subject to vary at different contexts, designers need to continuously dialogue and engage with stakeholders to consider re-assessment of the layout before actual design is carried out.
Session 2: The role of OSBP- What can OSBP do in light of AfCFTA and COVID-19
Ms. Trudi Hatzenberg, Executive Director, Trade Law Centre (TRALAC) presented the importance of adoption of digital trade solutions move towards the improving border governance driven by ICT technology, including E-Payments and E-documentations with the launch of AfCFTA. In her presentation, Ms. Hartzenberg emphasised the significance of TOT seminar as an opportunity to share key developments and updates to support trade facilitation in the AfCFTA.
Mr. Amos Phiri, Consultant and Advisor on Transport presented an overview of additional design considerations in terms of:
- specific OSBP legal and regulatory framework, procedures and operational manuals and implementation framework
- staff housing and detached health ports
- efficient circulation of traffic and flexibility of layouts and designs for future expansion
- dedicated funding mechanisms for maintenance
Ms. Yuriko Doi, Deputy Director, JICA presented on new challenges found in Border Posts. In her presentation, she outlined the survey that was conducted in 44 border posts in EAC Member States. The following items were highlighted:
- objective of the survey – identifying needs and challenges for strengthening infectious disease response at the BPs and surrounding areas
- finding one – need for standardization
- finding two – gap in facilities
- finding three – gap in human resources
- finding four – waste management
Mr. Arnold Nkoma from EAC Secretariat highlighted the following key issues:
- how health protocols could be mainstreamed in the OSBP procedures
- provisions that could be put at OSBP facilities – sanitary facilities, temperature monitoring equipment and personal protective equipment.
The panel looked at the importance of operational and procedural elements needed to foster health protocols, and to respond to increased cross-border trade volumes arising from the AfCFTA. Operations and procedures of the border posts are increasingly shifted to modernisation that driven by the ICT technology, including adoptions of digital trade solutions – e-payments, e-documentation. Focusing on standardisation of provision of the OSBP and making model procedures, while reflecting on how to better enforce health and security interventions at borders, will enable better and secured streamlining of procedures. Integrating health screening into the detached health port as a first clearance is needed to minimise the exposure of OSBP staff. It is also critical for border posts to address waste management and maintenance of border facility; this requires dedicated funding mechanism to ensure sustainable and resilient maintenance systems.
Session 3: Training of usage in infrastructure database on VPIC and AID
The Virtual PIDA Information Centre (VPIC) and African Infrastructure Database (AID) serve as repositories of data and e-platforms for information and knowledge sharing on infrastructure development. Mr. Ephrem Getahun, PIDA Information Management Specialist, AUDA-NEPAD provided training: ranging from enhancement the quality and improve the frequency of data collection on OSBP within the framework of PIDA projects, and technical flows of data addition/edition into AID to manage their metadata descriptions such as project characteristics, economic indicators, financial parameters, and implementation status.
Conclusion and key next step:
Training of Trainers Seminar on OSBP Design and Operations successfully managed to create a platform of engagement with highly committed leaders and experts in OSBP designs and operations. The training was also enhanced a mutual understanding for OSBP trainers, policymakers, and practitioners on priorities and issues of border governance post- and during the current COVID-19 pandemic. For the next steps, annual capacity building on OSBP is needed to address risks present in border posts spanning the African continent, together with regular engagement for OSBP users and border agencies to enhance clear understanding on the ground in the achievement of smooth and streamlined of procedures.