As part of continued efforts to build modern customs administrations in Africa, the World Customs Organization (WCO) recently organized a three-day workshop for top customs officials. The first Top Management Dialogue, held in Pretoria (South Africa) from Monday 6 to Wednesday 8 February 2012, brought together a group of high-level Customs officers from the East and Southern Africa Region (ESA).
This top level event is part of the ongoing implementation of the WCO ESA project “Building Trade Capacity through Customs Modernization in the East and Southern Africa Region”, an initiative funded by the Government of Finland.
The Opening Remarks for the Dialogue were given on behalf of the Donor by Mr Matti Tulonen, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria. Mr Tulonen and Ms Petra Yliportimo, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Finland, both participated in the workshop, which was facilitated by Mr Erich Kieck, Director of Capacity Building at WCO, together with Mr Tapani Erling, Director General of Finnish Customs.
Participants in the Dialogue included the Commissioners for Customs and other top management of the customs administrations of Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa. High-level speakers in the group sessions were top executives from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Deloitte, the South African Institute of International Affairs, and the South African National Treasury.
Throughout this interactive learning event, participants were given opportunities to build their individual leadership and management capacity through a series of individual reflections, group exercises and case studies.
The Dialogue focused on improving the understanding of the role of leaders and development of leadership qualities, in particular to aid customs officials in developing a greater awareness of the emerging Pan African trade liberalization and facilitation trends. Creating a vision of a strategy and making the strategy a reality were also discussed.
It was felt that the Dialogue helped officials increase their ability to build and strengthen their organizations to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Participants also worked together to develop strategies for modern customs administrations to lead change through effective leadership and management.
Participation costs were covered by the WCO. The South Africa Customs Administration, which acted as host, arranged for the participants’ accommodation and transport in Pretoria.
The World Customs Organization (WCO) is the only intergovernmental organization exclusively focused on Customs matters. With its worldwide membership, the WCO is now recognized as the voice of the global Customs community. One of the objectives of the WCO is capacity building, training and technical assistance and integrity programmes to increase the capacity of Member administrations to contribute effectively to national development goals.