*** In the Photo: AfDB VP Solomon Quaynor (left) and Commissioner Ko Kwang-hyo of the Korea Customs Service signed an Aide Memoire to collaborate on facilitating intra-African trade ***

By Olufemi Terry

Africa is set to benefit from improved customs technologies to boost intra-African trade. The African Development Bank and the Korea Customs Service (KCS) have signed an Aide Memoire on Facilitation of Customs Reforms and Modernisation that will tap Korean customs expertise and systems to enhance Africa’s trade processes, potentially increasing intra-continental commerce and supporting regional integration efforts.

Mr. Solomon Quaynor, African Development Bank Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialisation, and Mr. Ko Kwang-hyo, Commissioner of the Korea Customs Service, represented their respective institutions at a virtual signing ceremony, held today.   

Through the Aide Memoire, the collaboration  aims to promote trade facilitation among Bank Group Regional Member Countries by supporting customs reforms and modernisation, focusing on transparent operations and enhanced border management to increase revenues.

Key areas of cooperation include capacity-building and technical assistance for Customs modernisation, national and regional seminars on electronic clearance systems, site visits for African Customs officers to experience KCS’s digitalisation efforts, technical support for establishing electronic clearance and origin management systems in Africa, collaboration on trade and transport facilitation along African corridors and border posts, dissemination of best practices on trade facilitation, and joint studies on Customs modernisation policies for Regional Economic Communities in Africa.

Vice President Quaynor said, “the significance of this Aide Memoire on Facilitation of Customs Reforms and Modernisation cannot be overstated. It will energise the Bank’s operations on trade facilitation and customs reforms, helping to roll back non-tariff barriers and other impediments to intra-African and external trade and operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area. We look forward to working closely with the Korea Customs Service to implement the provisions in the Aide Memoire.”

Commissioner Ko Kwang-hyo highlighted Korea’s commitment to sharing its expertise, particularly through its UNI-PASS electronic clearance system. With this Aide Memoire as the foundation, KCS plans to initiate various activities to facilitate trade in the African region and foster active cooperation in new areas including distribution of KCS’s One-stop Origin Management System, capacity building programs for customs officers, and joint studies on customs modernisation of Regional Economic Communities, he said.

The Aide Memoire will be in effect through December 31, 2026, with the possibility of an extension. Both parties have committed to annual joint assessments of activities to ensure effective implementation.

It aligns with the Bank Group’s development agenda, particularly its focus on regional integration – one of the Bank’s “High 5” priority areas. It also targets to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement by addressing critical trade facilitation challenges.

It also builds on a strong foundation of cooperation between the African Development Bank and Korea, which joined the Bank Group as a shareholder in 1982. To date, the country has contributed nearly $800 million to the Bank Group and aims to become its tenth largest donor by 2031.

Notable achievements of the Korea-African Development Bank partnership include the $600 million Energy Investment Framework signed in May 2021, the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Trust Fund established in 2007 – currently the largest bilateral Fund managed by the Bank – and the biennial KOAFEC Ministerial Conference, promoting high-level policy dialogue between Africa and Korea.