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West Blue – Ghana’s Ports Reform Journey

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West Blue Consulting, a world-class business and IT-consulting, and technology firm has since its arrival in Ghana transformed the country’s port, making it easy for importers and exporters to do business, thereby increasing government’s revenue substantially.

The company which supported Customs in taking over its core functions from the Destination Inspections Companies (DICs) in 2015, launched the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) programme in partnership with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and port related stakeholders. The GNSW built on the ongoing gains of Ghana Community Network GCNET.

It is also imperative to note that West Blue launched Ghana’s first ever Trade Facilitation Strategic Action Plan – Blueprint and Roadmap as well as Ghana’s first Import and Export Process Manual (Trade Bible) in close partnership with GCNET, private sector trade participants, Customs and its trade regulatory agency partners and media partners. This arrangement was the basis for all modules rolled out in the programme.

The discontinuation of the Destination Inspection Scheme in Ghana, aligned Ghana with international best practices as per the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) guidelines. West Blue was also instrumental in establishing the Legal Framework for a Single Window in Ghana Custom’s Act in 2016 and Ghana’s ratification of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2016.

The Single Window Programme brought a remarkable change to the way import and export clearance transactions were done at Ghana’s land, sea and air ports to the admiration of all stakeholders.

Under the Single Window Programme, West blue introduced several innovative products to make trade easier and efficient at the port. Among the products the company introduced were the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting Systems (PAARS) which helps secure governments agenda in the area of Security, Revenue Mobilization and Trade Facilitation while ensuring a balance with the view to boost investor confidence; and Ghana’s Trade Hub (GTH) information portal, with its complimenting Mobile App which provides a single platform where all trade-related information is collected and made readily available for local and international investors, thereby saving time and expense for the trading community.

The company also introduced the Joint Inspection Management Information Systems (JIMIS), which resulted in the reduction of 16 physical examination agencies to 3, thereby streamlining intrusive cargo examinations; National Integrated Risk Management System (NIRMS), the Customs House Management System (CHAMS), Bay Allocation Management system (BAMS), Used Vehicle Application and Courier Application.

Under the Single Window Programme, clearance transactions at Ghana’s Ports reduced from two weeks to 48 hours and in the case of some compliant cargoes 2hours, significantly improving the government’s revenue collections at the ports.

The company also Launched the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) e-Zone centres at KIA and Tema.

Achievements: Global Rankings

With the introduction of the Single Window, Ghana’s global ranking increased substantially

In 2017, Ghana improved in its Trading Across Border by 13 places moving from 167 in 2016 to 154 in 2017 and also moved up its rankings in the sub-Saharan region by moving from 37 in 2016 to 29 in 2017.

In 2018 the country improved its ranking to 114 out of 190 economies, in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, moving up six places from 120 on the league of progressive economies that institute measures to facilitate businesses.

Improvements were also registered in the World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI) as Ghana’s ranking, rose from 12 places from 100th in 2014 to 88th in 2016 out of 160 countries. This is the largest year on year increase in Ghana’s global LPI ranking history since the survey was first undertaken in 2007.

Achievement: Paperless Port

The Vice-President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, 2017 introduced the Paperless Port to build on the Ghana National Single Window which was being run by West Blue in close collaboration with GCNet and other relevant stakeholders.

The Paperless Port contributed further to the ease of doing business at the port by removing trade barriers among other things.

Under the Paperless Ports Programme, the number of Port inspection agencies were cut from 16 agencies to 3 (GRA-Customs Division, GSA, FDA) to reduce clearing time.

The Paperless Port Programmen also saved Ghana $500 million since its implementation in 2017, as reported by the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) and increased government’s revenue to a 56% increase in the first year of its implementation.

Payment in demurrage decreased by 17.5% in 2017, according to Ghana Shippers Authority.

Internal customs barriers on all the transit corridors were removed and human interventions in port transactions and the Long Room.

West Blue made all these remarkable achievements with the support of all stakeholders especially the Ghana Revenue Authority- Customs Division, Ghana Ports and Harbors (GPHA) Authority, Meridian Port Services, Ghana Community Network (GCNet) and the media fraternity.

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