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Firm debunks lawsuit on $3.1b Customs automation deal

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The Managing Director of Webb Fontaine Nigeria, Opeolu Babalola has debunked controversy of the lawsuit surrounding the $3.1billion automation deal with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), stating that the company has been instrumental in providing reliable technology solutions that has been implemented by some government agencies for trade facilitation to support ease of doing business in the country.

Babalola said his company, which was appointed by NCS to implement a Customs-centric Single Window Portal and the provision of IT and telecoms infrastructure for Nigeria is committed to helping government succeed in the drive to promote efficiency, time saving and transparency in the conduct of its businesses.

He claimed to have trained over 10,000 Nigerians on various aspects of ICT aided trade procedures, many of which are customs officers.

“Let me say here that Webb Fontaine is fully supportive of all the Federal Government’s move to continue and improve upon the modernisation and full automation of NCS and its processes.

“This will help to facilitate trade, increase revenue and enhance national security, and will improve Nigeria’s standing in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business indices. This has been our focus and we have remained consistent with this over the years,” he said.

Babalola while speaking to journalists on the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade and logistics generally, as well as its effect on the ease of doing business, said in order to ensure seamless trade transactions across our ports and to improve the industry, there must be greater efficiency through technology and the simplification of processes and checks.

He emphasised on the importance of digitisation as the world begins its journey to recovery and continues to adapt to the health safety rules now required for post COVID-19, adding that the Nigeria Customs Service is already doing so much in the digital space including the application of e-form M, as their revenue has experienced appreciable increase.

He said issues to be looked into as part of the country’s readiness for post Covid-19 era to boost ease of doing business include: physical distancing, reducing physical presence to a minimum; digitisation and paperless approaches, revenue collection, risk management inspections, passenger screening, client segmentation, movement of goods, regional and international connectivity, border management readiness for crisis.

He, however, added that for Nigeria to navigate the complex world of logistics, international Customs and global supply chains in the post-Covid-19 era, it would require government agencies and the private sector to embrace new methods that prioritise digitisation.

“We strongly recommend knowledge sharing and to streamline complicated and outdated processes for the benefit of all. Knowledge sharing will come with multiple benefits like increase in government revenue, support for trade and strengthening security in many ramifications.

“Our services synchronises well with the Federal Government of Nigeria Ease of Doing Business and Trade Facilitation policies. Our e-government software products, information and telecommunications technology and infrastructure services, peripherals and consumables, business process reengineering and standardisation has been applied successfully across various government agencies,” he added.


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