Microsoft & Trade Hub Partner to Bring Cloud Computing to Southern African Trade
During the Microsoft eCustoms Workshop for Customs Commissioners and Microsoft Partners held on their Redmond Campus in Seattle, USA, on May 10, Robert Kirk, Chief of Party and Ranga Munyaradzi, Senior Customs Advisor, gave a presentation on the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) Cloud Computing Pilot Project. During the keynote presentation at the 2011 World Customs Organization IT Conference and Exhibition, Ranga Munyaradzi and Namibian Customs Commissioner, Bevan Simataa, were invited on-stage to elaborate on this initiative.
Currently customs computer systems are not connected across international frontiers, which mean the same Customs declarations data have to be manually entered at each customs border post as a shipment travels along the corridor. The manual re-entry of data is associated with an increased chance for human-error and delays in customs processing and the associated increase in overall trade costs. The solution being developed by Microsoft and the SATH will use 'cloud computing' – the on-demand provision of computational resources (data, software) via a computer network, rather than from a local computer – to electronically connect the customs authorities of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa to allow for electronic data interchange of customs declarations. In this way, an importer/exporter would only need to enter the customs information relating to a shipment once, rather than each time a shipment crosses a border. The system also allows for the future integration of other border agencies such as health and agriculture, creating a 'single window' for importers and exporters.
The TKC pilot is the first step in a larger vision of regional integration aiming to further extend cooperation between the three countries to national banking systems and financial intelligence, reduce bonds, and provide advance information of shipments creating greater predictability and superior risk management capabilities.