The implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA) in Namibia: Measure 10.4 - Single Window (SW)

Brian Uaisana Patoko
Is Namibia implementing a Single Window (SW)?. The SW Environment in Namibia is set, what is left is to procure the SW Solution (hardware and software), install and go-live.

Namibia through ratification in 2018, committed itself to the WTO-TFA. Single Window in Namibia is a Category C measure, with an implementation deadline of 31 December 2023. The Namibia National Single Window (NSW) will be rolled-out over three (3) phases of 12 months each, anticipated to start (go-live) from December 2023. Objective 1 is to reduce time and cost associated with imports, exports and transit of goods. Objective 2 is to improve Namibia`s Global Competitiveness and ranking in doing business.

Namibian Cabinet in 2013 approved the establishment of SW initiative. The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) is spearheading the SW implementation, in collaboration with the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) as the host. Namibia E-Trade Services Pty Ltd (NETS) will operate the SW jointly with a Technical Partner.

The WTO TFA states that “Members shall endeavour to establish or maintain a single window, enabling traders to submit documentation and/or data requirements for importation, exportation, or transit of goods through a single entry point to the participating authorities or agencies. After the examination by the participating authorities or agencies of the documentation and/or data, the results shall be notified to the applicants through the single window in a timely manner” (WTO, 2023).

NSW is a national platform, which will be utilized by everyone engaged in international trade (importation, exportation, and transit of goods) to/from/through Namibia. NSW users will thus be traders, transport operators, and all Cross Border Regulatory Agencies (CBRAs), for international transactions only. Currently, there are close to twenty (20) CBRAs participating in the NSW implementation. More CBRAs are expected to join after the NSW go live.

In Namibia, preliminary work has commenced for the first four (4) steps of SW implementation as proposed by UNECE-UN/CEFACT (2012), namely; policy planning, legal and institutional framework, business process analysis, and document simplification & standardization. Though, there is no particular NSW laws and regulations in Namibia yet.

As highlighted by UNECE- UN/CEFACT (2012), the establishment of a Single Window system is a complex political reform project. There are several challenges in Single Window planning implementation. The SW technology is not available in Namibia and must be sourced from elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is political support and SW technology sourcing and financing options for full project implementation are under consideration.

In Namibia, an NSW Steering Committee, Project Implementation Committee, and three (3) Working Groups were established, namely Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and Legal Review. An NSW Project Management Unit (PMU) was also established within MIT, to coordinate NSW implementation and as a platform for inter-agency collaboration, effective management of stakeholders' expectations and perceptions etc. NSW Team Leaders/Focal Persons, as well as in-house NSW Teams for each of the three working groups were established within the respective CBRAs.

A lot of stakeholder engagements have been conducted over the years. Hence, there is buy-in or acceptance of NSW and willingness to actively support and participate in NSW from both public and private stakeholders.  A two-day stakeholders meeting was held, attended by Ministers, Chief Executive Officers and top officials from both public and private stakeholders. Recommendations from the NSW feasibility study were presented, and accepted by the meeting, including the proposed business model and transaction/service fee for the use of the NSW platform, for self-sustainability. Furthermore, several individual consultations were held with the vast majority of the CBRs, as well as with the different stakeholders of the respective CBRAs.

National exchange of trade data amongst the participating parties of a SW requires a legal framework that enables and defines the conditions of, amongst others, the electronic submission of documents, electronic signatures, data sharing and data archiving (UNNExt, as cited in UNECE- UN/CEFACT, 2012). In light of this, NSW Legal Framework Assessment was undertaken in October 2015.

The establishment of a Single Window for Trade requires the design of new services and changes to agencies' and other stakeholder`s business processes. Undertaking a Business Process Analysis (BPA)  is a useful step and tool for the design of the Single Window. It allows all parties involved in the reform effort to gain a better understanding about the documentary, procedural and operational aspects of international trade transactions. In particular, it informs how business processes are carried out, how business processes relate to one another, who is responsible for generating them, and what documents, rules, and regulations are involved and how this information flows (UNECE- UN/CEFACT, 2012).

Thus far, Business Process Mapping/Analysis and Validations were carried out for Namport, Customs & Excise, and MIT`s Import and Export Office, other institutions to follow in due course.

With regards to documents simplification and standardisation, import, export and transit application forms, as well as actual sample permits were collected from CBRAs. The actual process of analysing these documents is expected once the SW Technical Partner/system supplier is on board.

  • All-in-all, opportunity was created by Cabinet Decision in 2013, which approved;
  • The establishment of the Namibia National Single Window (NSW) Initiative;
  • The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade to spearhead the NSW initiative;
  • The establishment of a National Steering Committee at Executive Directors` level, and supporting Technical Working Groups to drive the Initiative; and
  • MIT to engage a consultant to do the cost and benefit analysis and advise on the model that could be considered appropriate for Namibia`s trading environment.
The NSW Feasibility Study was completed in November 2016. The study included cost and benefit analysis and advise on the model that could be considered appropriate for Namibia`s trading environment, amongst others. The study also opened a good opportunity to ensure self-sustainability of the SW system, by proposing that a service/transaction fee be charged from the onset when the NSW System go-live (Lim Fat, 2016). 

Below is a summary of some work completed to date on establishing the NSW Environment:

  • NSW Feasibility Study
  • NSW Communications Strategy and Action Plan
  • NSW Project Charters (overall NSW project charter, and individual project charters for most CBRAs).
  • NSW Quality Model
  • NSW Management Methodology
  • NSW Legal Framework Assessment
  • BPR (Training, Business Process Mapping/Analysis and Validations)  
  • Change Management Training
  • Consultations with the Payment Association of Namibia (PAN), on the proposed NSW Government e-Payment Gateway (GePG) Solution. The proposal received buy-in from the Central Bank and all Commercial Banks.
  • NSW Hosting Agreement between Government/MIT and Namport

Meantime, there are talks to implement NSW parallel/jointly with the Maritime Single Window (MSW) and ultimately the Ports Community System (PCS).

Namibia is indeed busy implementing a Single Window, and substantial work is anticipated to be completed by 31 December 2023.

The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade of the Republic of Namibia can be contacted for more information with regards to Single Window implementation in Namibia.  

Brian Uaisana Patoko

I studied Business Administration, and currently employed by the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade – Namibia for 18 years now. My work roles over the years ranges from enterprise and entrepreneurship development and promotion, regional economic development, and trade promotion & facilitation. For the past 7 years to date, I have been assisting with the coordination of the National Single Window (NSW) implementation in Namibia. As a member of NTFC of Namibia, I remain committed to accelerate the overall implementation of the WTO-TFA Reforms effectively and efficiently, while fully utilising the UNCTAD Reform Tracker Tool.


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