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Customs modernization agreement signed, to generate $176bn – ICRC

The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has said that the Nigerian Customs Modernisation Project, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) will generate over $176 billion dollars to the Federal Government in 20 years.

Acting Director General of the ICRC, Michael Ohiani disclosed this on Monday at the signing ceremony of the concession.

The concession agreement was between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Trade Modernisation Project Limited, with Huawei Technologies as the Technical Partner and Africa Finance Corporation as the lead financiers, all under the regulatory supervision of the ICRC.

According to the DG ICRC, the project which is a Presidential initiative on Customs modernization will attract an investment of over $3.2 billion.

“Having gone through all the PPP processes satisfactorily and obtained ICRC’s Full Business Case Compliance (FBC), the approval of the Federal Executive Council and the final vetting of the concession agreement by the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation, the parties are today, ready to execute the agreement and commence implementation of the project.

“I urge the Concessionaire to ensure the full implementation of the terms of the agreement credibly and in line in with global best practices.,” he said.

On his part, the Comptroller General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali commended the ICRC for remaining steadfast in advancing the implementation of the project.

He allayed fears that the implementation of a modernized and computerized service will lead to job losses, stressing however that the NSC would rather require an additional 15,000 staff for optimal operation.

“Let me commend ICRC, but for their steadfastness and tenacity we would not be here celebrating this project today. We are indeed grateful and your name is written in gold.

“We are happy to say that in Nigeria we are going to be fully digitized and modernized. We are setting a pace for all other African countries to learn from.

“There are rumours that this project is going to weed off officers, let me allay those fears: we are even in need of officers. We have only about15,000 and by the mission of management we need nothing less than 30,000 to effectively carry out the mandate,” he said.

The CG also hinted that the project was going to quadruple the monthly revenue of the Service.

“As of today, we are making a collection of over N210 billion to N225 billion per month. It is our hope that by the time we put trade modernization in place, we would triple this figure if not quadruple,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the NSC would soon invite President Muhamadu Buhari to flag off the project, calling for support from all stakeholders including staff of the Service, project partners and the media.

For the representative of Huawei Technologies, Kevin Yang, he said: “I just want to express our commitment that we will make sure that all the deliverables to the facility and process automation and paperless customs is achieved.

“We will make sure this is a world standard project.”

Representative of the AFC’s Chief Executive, Sumaila Zuberu on her part reiterated the commitment of the AFC to the project, pointing out that its success will be a reference point for the Custom Service in other African countries.

She expressed hope that the project will be quickly implemented, adding that the AFC was still very committed to provide the relevant finance required for the project.

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