If you didn’t know it – here is some news for you: Dubai Customs is one of the a global leaders on Customs information services. Dubai Customs has developed a range of advanced e-services for the private sector and the public.
Dubai Customs has for a long time been a champion of innovative digitial Customs technolgy solutions. But are they the only administration using the new technology platforms for communication? No almost all Customs administration do so these days.
Customs has been a key function for Government for centuries. In fact Customs is one of the oldest professions in the world. Originally to collect tax and duties, which is still tve main function for many Customs administries around the world.
However as the world is changing so is Customs. Today areas like security, safety, protection, law enforcement and IPR are key functions for all Customs services. Customs nowadays also play a key role in development being the leading main authority involved in international trade. Today we know that trade is one of the most important drivers in relation to social development of our nations and regions. With growing and emerging trade and changed trade patterns line the development of global value chains, trade facilitation has become a major oriority for Customs.
To be able to carry out these key functions of our countries in an efficient way, communication and interaction with people, citizens and businesses have become a part of daily life for customs officers. Why is information and communication important? If people don’t know the regulations, they can’t follow the rules. This not only creates unnecessary problems for people – and Government – but it also make us use resources in the wrong areas from a risk management perspective.
For decades now we have been developing communication strategies, information policies, information material, customer surveys, focus groups, cooperation foras and in our attempts to increase the information to public and private sectors. It is fair to say that we have not always been successful in our honest attempts and that we are still learning as agencies to do this effecient and in a language that is understandable for non-Government officials. But we are improving, we are getting better and better.
The latest trend in this perspective that I find very intersting from a communication perspective is Customs use of social media.
Being a firm believer of communication and being an early adopter to new technology (toys for boys, you know) I personally started to use socia media and internet blogs. Today I have more than 11.000 readers of this blog a month and many follwers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The interaction I have from thes eplatforms is amazing, keeping old networks alive and establishing new ones alla round the world. Today there are more people having access to a cell/mobile/smartphone than to clean water. There are social media networks, like FB that didn’t exist ten tears ago, connecting billions of people.
Private Sector and business early discovered the commercial potential of social media.
Now Customs and Government agencies are starting to do the same. I have the last thee years followed the development of Customs use of social media as a part of my PhD preparations.
In 2013 when I started to look at this topic most Customs administrations had good websites but that was basically the common use of internet services available at the time. There were about twenty countries that has started to enter the world of social media and smart phone apps.
In early 2014 the real development had started and a number of countries follwed.
Today there are almost one hundred countries who make their Customs information available using social media applications.
Many Customs administrations have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and have Instagram services. There were more thn 500 Cusotms related Twitter accounts in the beginning of 2016 and many new ones have been added since.
There are more than 1000 smart phone apps available for IOs/Apple iPhone and Andoid phones (like Samsung, LG and Huawei smartphones) for Customs matters. Most of these apps are for free and can give considerble support for the private sector and the public. You can find everything from customs duties and tax calculators to applications, licensing rules, legislation tools, informations services and much more. Very valuable information for everybody.
I will soon publicise a specific paper on this topic. In this research paper I will also present some of the early results from international use of social media in Customs. I can reveal that the results are very positive. It works, and why wouldn’t it?
You will find more about it on this blog, so watch out.
I seriously recommend you all to search and use these applications. They are there for you and thr more we all use them, the better they will become. Start by checking out the leaders in this field, Customs admikistrations like Dubai Customs and USCBP.
So Day 3 of the World Customs Organizations’ annual global assembly has started. This is a meeting that has been effected by the security sitiuation and tragic events taking place in different parts of the world, making the world taking place in the council around setting global standards for trade, the global supply chain and global security.
Some of the key topics for the meeting included e-commerce, security and counter-terrorism, Customs-Police cooperation, Customs-Tax cooperation, and the Revenue Package Phase III Action Plan.
It has also so far a lively meeting. We have in addition to the ordinary business also had lenghtly and very colorful discussions about a new Governence proposal for the organization, to make WCO more transparent in the future.
The second day of the World Customs Organization annual assembly, the Council Session has started.
This was one of the best presentations I have ever heard in this wonderful room. And I’ve heard many …
Today the annual general assembly, the Council Session 2016 of the World Customs Organization (WCO), has started.
WCO is the international standard setting institution for Customs, borders, supply chain security and international trade.
WCO:s 180 member countries meet in Brussels and more than 1000 people (approx. 600 officially for the meeting) dicuss and make decisions in relation to all the activities of the year and the plans for the future.
This is a great week for all Customs officers and Government officials of this sector.
There have been a number of meetings already, starting with the Policy Commission and the Private Sector Consultative Group. I have had a number of bilateral meetings already and it is great to meet so many friends and people from the world that I have known my entire adult life. I am a customs officer, I have always been a Customs officer and I will always be a Customs officer. This is my environment. I love it. I will be interesting three days.
John-Paul Iwuoha has written an interesting article about the opportunities of Africa. You can read the article ere below. I think that the author offers an interesting perspective from many perspectives. I have visited all African countries and I have often been thinking the same thing. The opportunities aee enormous, but are people doing the right thing in the right order? I have a theory about capacity building, based on twenty years of experience working with reform and development in more than 120 countries, that sequence is the key to implementation success. It is vital to know what to do – but it is even more important to know in what order to do it. So if we do one thing, that seems to be the most prioritized need, like supporting local business, it doesn’t do any good if the entrepreneur can’t move the product or service to the market – where the people are. We are also always copying successful business ideas from other places trying to implement them elseware according tomarket strategy scalability patterns. When the new market need totally different things. It just doesn’t work. One good idea can always be an inspire and best practice but any new solution has to be adjusted to the local environment. This becomes even more evident when talking about international trade where speed and predictability are the makers of success. This is the real challenge for African trade, and we all know it since decades. It is time to do something about it. It is time to make it work.
There is a saying in Africa that goes like this;
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it would starve to death.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up in Africa, you better start running!”
This is the article;
What do you see when you look at Africa?
Do you still see problems or lucrative and untapped opportunities? Africa is full and overflowing with amazing potentials for people like you to make money. The challenge is that most of these opportunities are buried inside tough and challenging problems.
When most people look at Africa, there are two very strong but opposite images that emerge:
Some see a continent that is full of problems – unemployment, disease, hunger and insecurity – a place where everything is wrong and nothing works.
Some others see a land of vast opportunities and untapped potential.
Optimists like to describe Africa as the “world’s last frontier” of lucrative business opportunities.
While the ignorant and fearful see a dark and unpromising continent, smart entrepreneurs see the amazing business opportunities that lie beneath all of Africa’s problems.
Looking for serious problems and thinking of interesting and innovative ways to solve them is one of the most effective methods of finding high-potential business ideas.
Problems are blessings in disguise and every successful entrepreneur knows this secret.
The most lucrative opportunities in Africa are not in its crude oil, precious stones or timber. No. Africa’s biggest jackpot lies in finding solutions to many of its serious and pressing problems.
Anyone who can solve the problems you’re about to read stands the chance of making money in Africa.
This article looks at eight serious problems in Africa that hold lucrative business opportunities and will make money for entrepreneurs who can unlock them.
Hunger is one of Africa’s biggest and most serious problems.
Images of hungry and starving African children often make the headlines in mainstream media and have come to represent the face of our continent.
Despite having more than 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, a conducive climate for agriculture, and an overwhelmingly young population (more than 60% of the African population is under 25 years old), millions of people on our continent still go hungry.
Presently, Africa does not produce enough food to feed itself and has remained a net importer of food.
With one of the world’s fastest growing populations, many African countries spend billions of dollars every year importing basic food products to meet local demand and consumption.
Our continent’s population (currently at just over one billion) is projected to rise to 2.3 billion over the next 30 years. With all these mouths to feed, agribusiness is more than likely to become a booming industry in Africa’s future.
There are several reasons for the serious hunger problem on our continent.
Apart from hunger which is induced by conflicts and natural disasters (like drought and floods), Africa’s failing agriculture industry is arguably the root cause of hunger on the continent.
Agriculture, which used to be a booming and attractive industry, has been abandoned for white-collar jobs in the cities.
At the current migration rate, more Africans will live in cities than in rural areas by 2050. With decreasing interest from ordinary people and low investments from both the business community and governments, the current state of Africa’s agriculture industry makes it unable to produce the amount of food needed to feed a large and fast growing population.
There are several lucrative opportunities for entrepreneurs who start businesses, no matter how small, that help to solve the hunger problem in Africa.
The high demand for food staples is leading to interesting opportunities in vegetable farming,cassava farming, livestock farming (fish, chicken, pigs, ostrich, snails).
There is also a huge potential for businesses like animal feed production that support the livestock industry.
The opportunity in Africa’s hunger problem is simple:
Food is a basic need and a matter of survival. It’s boom time for food businesses. You can hardly ever go wrong with food in Africa!
With one of the world’s youngest populations, Africa’s large and growing pool of unemployed labour is one of its biggest problems.
Young people, many of who are physically and mentally capable, cannot find the jobs they need to earn a decent income for their upkeep and basic survival.
Depending on whose figures you’re looking at, the unemployement rate on our continent is huge (up to 50 percent).
Since jobs must exist before people can be employed, does it mean that there are no jobs in Africa? Of course not!
In fact, Africa’s economy has been growing steadily for over a decade and six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa.
A growing economy is often a clear sign that more jobs are being created. However, the main problem with the job market in Africa is that it is largely disorganized. It is quite difficult for businesses and employers to find potential employees with the right skills, education and experience for the positions they want to fill.
To a considerable part, Africa’s unemployment problem has to do with information sharing rather than total unavailability of jobs.
Several smart Africans are already rising to the challenge of solving our continent’s unemployment problems. In Nigeria, Jobberman.com, which was started by three university undergrads in 2009, has become Nigeria’s Number 1 job search and recruitment portal.
In a country where more than 40 million able-bodied people are unemployed, Jobberman is helping millions of people get a job by connecting vacancies with the right candidates; saving recruitment costs for businesses.
Seeing the huge potentials in this business model, Tiger Global, a New-York based fund with investments in Facebook and LinkedIn became an investor in Jobberman.com in 2011… a little less than three years after it started!
The service now has a subsidiary in Ghana and plans to roll out across Africa in the near future.
Apart from providing critical information services that help employers and potential employees to find each other, there is also another angle to the unemployment problem in Africa – unemployability.
Many of the people looking for jobs on our continent do not have the required education, training, skills and experience that make them desirable for employment. Businesses and entrepreneurs who can offer solutions to this problem in the form of skill acquisition programs, education and training are very likely to enjoy huge benefits.
While Africa is home to about 15 percent of the world’s population, Africa alone accounts for nearly 24 percent of all diseases that occur in the world.
Apart from poor access to essential medicines and vaccines, low quality healthcare, malnutrition, and poverty, our continent’s tropical (warm) climate favours the breeding of disease vectors (especially mosquitoes which cause malaria).
In addition to these factors, the rise of chronic diseases like heart attacks, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes is causing more deaths in Africa every year.
According to a recent WHO Report, infectious diseases are the leading causes of sickness and death in developing regions like Africa.
Of these infectious diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases, and measles make up more than 90 percent of over 10 million disease-related deaths that occur in Africa every year. Most of these diseases can be treated with the right drugs.
Africa’s serious disease problem has led to a huge and rapidly growing demand for drugs, medicines and other pharmaceutical products.
The size of Africa’s pharmaceutical market is expected to reach nearly $45 billion by the year 2020 and entrepreneurs like Uganda’s Emmanuel Katongole are already taking advantage of this huge opportunity.
Malaria, for example is estimated to cost countries such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo up to 1.3% of their GDP, according to the Malaria Consortium. That’s why Faso Soap, the brainchild of two ingenious African entrepreneurs has got me very excited!
Comprised of shea butter, lemongrass, African marigold and other natural resources that are plentiful across Africa, this soap is designed to leave an insect-repelling odour on the user’s skin after bathing. It could be used to prevent against a wide range of mosquito-transmitted conditions — perhaps eventually even Zika.
And this is why I believe over the next few decades, both giant drug manufacturing companies (inside and outside Africa) and healthcare-focused entrepreneurs will reap huge benefits while they help to fight and reduce Africa’s disease burden.
The standard of education in many parts of our continent has deteriorated terribly. Poor access to quality education at all levels – from basic primary education to university – is another serious and nagging problem across Africa.
The poor quality of government education and low investment in the education sector has put it in a state of crisis in many African countries.
Because many Africans understand that education is one of the few bridges out of poverty, millions of poor families on the continent are desperate to find good schools for their children. However, the existing schools and training facilities are unaffordable for many people and are not even enough to cater to the needs of Africa’s large and rapidly growing population.
To solve the problem of inadequate opportunities for affordable quality education (especially for children from poor homes), some entrepreneurs on our continent have come up with interesting solutions.
Omega Schools, based in Ghana, is a chain of low-cost private schools that offers basic primary education to children in poor families for an incredibly low and affordable fee (less than $1 a day per student).
Bridge International Schools in Kenya uses a similar low-cost model to provide affordable education to thousands of children in East Africa for less than $5 per month per student. Before these amazing businesses started, it was thought impossible to educate poor people at a profit.
Some people say that if you look at the African continent from outer space at night, it looks empty and pitch black.
Maybe this is why the rest of the world refers to Africa as the ‘dark continent’.
The poor supply of electricity to support everyday needs like lighting up bulbs, pumping water and charging mobile phone batteries is a big and very serious problem in many parts of Africa.
In many countries on the continent, less than 20 percent of the population have access to electricity; the situation is much worse in rural areas where fewer than 5 percent are connected to the electric power grid.
Electricity is such a serious problem for Africa that the growth and prosperity of its economy and the convenience of our daily lives depends on it.
Did you know that all the 40+ countries of Sub-saharan Africa (except South Africa), with a combined population of more than 750 million people, generate roughly the same amount of electricity as Spain (a single country of less than 50 million people)?
According to the WorldBank, Africa arguably has the worst electric power infrastructure in the world with the lowest scores in power generation, consumption and security of supply!
Entrepreneurs like Tanzania’s Patrick Ngowi are seizing the lucrative opportunities in Africa’s electricity problems. By focusing on solar energy, which is freely and abundantly available in Africa, Patrick has brought electricity to thousands of homes in his country.
To date, his company (Helvetic Solar Contractors), has installed more than 6,000 small rooftop solar systems in his country and four other East African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
And there are more ambitious entrepreneurs like him who are using the power of the sun to light up Africa. And here’s a list of the Top 10 Solar Businesses that are lighting up Africa!
Africa is losing its natural beauty and environment to different forms of degradation especially solid waste pollution.
As Africa becomes more urbanised and the spending power of the average African rises, more goods will be consumed leading to even more waste. The volume of waste generated on our continent is expected to double in the coming years as the size and population of its cities explode.
Apart from the dirty and unsightly look that heaps of waste are giving to several cities across Africa, poor waste management is closely related to, and largely responsible for, the outbreak of diseases. In addition to its undesirable effects, the way we handle and treat our waste will play a very significant role in managing Africa’s natural resources in the future.
Recycling waste (like kitchen waste, paper, plastic and metals) helps to reduce the pollution in our environment and provides jobs for thousands of people on our continent.
To tackle the menace of plastic waste in Nairobi (the Kenyan capital), Lorna Rutto, a former banker decided to start a small plastic recycling business. Her business uses plastic waste collected from dumpsites and garbage cans across Nairobi to manufacture fencing posts.
These posts, which are used to fence houses and forest reserves, are becoming a preferred alternative to timber. So far, her innovative business has created over 7,000 fencing posts, 500 new jobs, generated more than $150,000 in yearly revenues, saved over 250 acres of forests and removed more than 1,000 tonnes of plastic waste from the environment.
Another interesting business that is solving the problem of waste disposal in Africa is DMT Mobile Toilets in Lagos (Nigeria) – one of Africa’s most populated cities.
In its bid to reduce the public disposal of human waste, this business provides affordable access to toilet facilities in public spaces (bus parks, events, etc) across Lagos. To date, this company has manufactured over 3,000 mobile private toilets. It produces over 200 units every month for sale and for hire across Nigeria and in the West Africa region.
With millions of humans and goods that are moved around everyday across Africa, transportation has become central to the functioning of Africa’s economy and crucial to basic survival on our continent.
With potholed roads, poor transport networks, absent rail lines and weak water transportation, the options for moving people and goods around on the continent are quite limited.
Although the roads are bad, people and goods still need to move around.
With a population that is growing faster than anywhere else on earth, transportation remains a problem of the present and future for Africa.
In spite of its challenges, smart entrepreneurs are rising to the occasion to solve everyday transport needs for millions of Africans. Motorcycles, taxis, buses, trucks and ferries are some of the ways of tackling the transportation problem.
After food, shelter is arguably the next most important necessity in our lives.
Shelter in this regard refers to housing accommodation, office space and public buildings.
The growing migration of Africans from rural to urban areas is putting a lot of pressure on available and affordable housing in cities and towns across the continent.
Seeing the huge opportunities and potentials in our continent’s housing problem, it’s hardly any surprise that entrepreneurs like Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, who is currently Africa’s richest man, has been making very significant investments in cement production, the most vital material in building construction.
Other building and construction materials like wood, glass, aggregates and steel have become hot-selling products. We took a close look at the lucrative potentials of this sector in our article: ‘Building and Construction materials – 9 Hot selling products that can make you money in Africa.’
Individuals, businesses and governments are making huge investments in Africa’s real estate and infrastructure market. Smart entrepreneurs are buying up undeveloped land around major cities in a bid to build their own houses and possibly earn rental income from tenants who need shelter too.
Other popular real estate investments are in office spaces and retail spaces; shops for traders.
It’s the same with everything in life. It is the same with mining gold, diamonds or crude oil; there is usually a lot of hard and dirty work involved. Somebody has to dig or drill many metres into the belly of the earth to find these precious resources. It’s also the same thing with Africa’s problems. If you want to make money on our continent, you will need to roll up your sleeves and solve a serious problem. The tougher the problems you solve, the more money you are likely to make! This article is intended to open your eyes to the possibilities around you. Have you noticed a serious problem or suffering in your environment?
What have you been doing about it? Nagging? Complaining? Blaming the government? Well, now you know you should change the way you look at and react to problems. Problems are huge opportunities to make money. Find one and fix it. Let’s go Africa
John-Paul Iwuoha is an author, impact entrepreneur, business strategist, and founder of Smallstarter Africa. He works with entrepreneurs and investors to start up and grow businesses in Africa. He is also the co-author of 101 Ways To Make Money in Africa, the widely-acclaimed book which reveals several interesting business ideas, market opportunities, and inspiring entrepreneur success stories across Africa.