Single Window Project, beginning of a new era — Tinubu


By Abiodun OBA


President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has inaugurated the steering committee for the Single Window Project (SWP), a game changer that will revolutionise the way trade is conducted in the country.

Inaugurating the committee inside the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, on Monday, the president said, “the transformative project” will propel the nation’s economy to new heights, as it is not just a policy but “a bold statement” of the administration’s commitment to progress, prosperity, and the well-being of every Nigerian.

The project is a cross-government website to facilitate trade by offering a single portal for trade actors, both Nigerian and international, to access a full range of resources and standardised services from different Nigerian agencies.

Noting that the country has immense potential, having been blessed with people of resilience, creativity, and an unwavering spirit of enterprise, the president lamented, however, that “for far too long, our economic growth has been hindered by the complexities and inefficiencies in our trade processes. Today, we say that there should be no more.”

President Tinubu informed that the implementation of the initiative will bring an annual economic benefit of around $2.7 billion to the country.

He further assured that the national single window will revolutionise the way trade is conducted in the country; “by simplifying government trade compliance through a digital platform, we will unlock the doors to economic prosperity and all other opportunities.”

President Tinubu added, “This initiative will link our ports, government agencies, and key stakeholders, creating a seamless and efficient system that will facilitate trade like never before. Imagine a Nigeria where businesses can save time and resources, where small enterprises can reach global markets, and where the informal e-commerce sector is brought into the fold, increasing our tax base. This is the Nigeria we are building with the National Single Window.

“The benefits of this initiative are immense. The paperless trade alone is estimated to bring an annual economic benefit of around $2.7 billion US dollars.

“Countries like Singapore, Korea, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia have already seen significant improvements in trade efficiency after implementing single-window systems. It is time for Nigeria to join their ranks and reap the rewards of a streamlined, decentralised trade process. We cannot afford to lose an estimated 4 billion dollars annually to red tape, bureaucracy, delays, and corruption at our ports.

“The National Single Window will address these issues headlong, preventing revenue leakage and facilitating effective trade. By doing so, we will create a more transparent, secure, and business-friendly environment that will attract investment and spur economic growth.

“The implementation of the National Single Window will not be an overnight process, I know. It requires dedication, collaboration, and a phased approach. But I assure you, my fellow brothers and sisters, that we are fully committed to seeing this project through.

“We work tirelessly to ensure its success by engaging all partner agencies and stakeholders to create a system that works for every one of us.

“Moreover, the National Single Window is not just about Nigeria; by linking our system with those of other African nations, we will expedite cargo movement and optimise inter-Africa trade. This initiative is a testament to our commitment to regional integration and our belief in the power of collaboration.”

The president asserted that the inauguration of the steering committee marked the beginning of a new era, “an era of unyielding commitment to prosperity, efficiency, and endless possibilities. The national single window is not just a project; it is a symbol of our determination to build a better future for ourselves and generations to come.”

He called on all citizens to embrace the initiative with open arms, adding, “Let us work together as one nation to make the National Single Window a resounding success.

“Let us show the world that Nigeria is ready to take its rightful place as one of the leaders in global trade. Together, we will build a Nigeria that is stronger, more prosperous, and more united than ever before. The national single window is our gateway to that future. And I am honoured to lead us on this transformative journey, I assure you.”

President Tinubu charged the committee to get rid of any obstacles in their way, even as he expressed his readiness to listen to ideas to make it a success.

“Dismantle all block webs along your way. I will be ready to listen to conversations, your discoveries, and any problem-solving areas that will make the Single Window a big success. You are building a legacy and a country that is yours, mine, and that future generations will benefit from. You have this great opportunity. It’s a bold endeavour that will etch your names in gold,” he maintained.

Explaining some of the benefits to the media after the inauguration, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Bello Koko, said with the implementation of the initiative, the target is that imports will be cleared at the ports within 24 hours, even though it takes 72 hours in neighbouring countries.

He said the initiative will drastically reduce the amount of paperwork involved in transactions for import and export, as information will be shared through a unified platform among the relevant government agencies.

He said, “So, for clearance, the target is actually 24 hours. Of course, we know what is obtainable in neighbouring countries; it’s 48 to 72, but the target is actually 24 hours.

“As for the number of forms, if you were filling out 20, 30, or 40 printed forms, now, digitally, you’re filling out a form that has 2, 3, or 4 pages. You can see where we’re working.

“Let me give you an example. You fill out a form that has information that is probably customs; you’re bringing a product. What Customs is interested in is the type, the year of manufacture, and so on and so forth, but they also need the MF number, the form M number, and what have you.

“The Nigerian Ports Authority is interested in the weight of the cargo. But you are filling out different forms with the MF that both of us also need.

“So, we are trying to unify this information in such a way that you fill as little as possible, and all related government agencies that are in the value chain of import or export processing should be able to pick up the information they need from there.

“So, you can see the picture here. We are reducing the current numbers. And then, the second thing is that it’s not going to be printed. So, the efficiency it brings here is that you can feel it in your bedroom. Your offices and shipping lines, freight forwarders, Nigerian Customs NPA, and so on and so forth should be able to process your requests, whether they’re in terms of import or export. That is the target.”

Members include representatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance, representatives of the Marine and Blue Economy, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, representatives of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, representatives of the Nigerian Customs Service, and representatives of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

Others are representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria, representative of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), representative of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, representative of the Nigerian Maritime Administration on Safety Agency (NIMASA), representative of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and representative of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

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