BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Nigeria Customs Service sees 45% monthly revenue increase with Blockchain technology

Aber T Benjamin is the Assistant Comptroller General, Modernisation at Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). In this exclusive interview with Jumoke Lawanson and Ifeoma Okeke, he talks about the benefits alluded with piloting Oracle’s Blockchain Cloud Service to provide the NCS with a trusted platform for the full automation of Customs Excise Trade business processes and procedures that improves transparency by allowing Nigeria Customs to document and track products that are manufactured locally, right from the source of licensing and permits for manufacturing, to distribution and point of sale.

Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has deployed an early adopter version of Oracle’s blockchain cloud service, how has this impacted NCS services?

The successful completion of Oracle Blockchain-as-a-Service Proof of Concept (POC) shows that the entire business environment of Nigerian Customs can be migrated to Blockchain, to automate as many customs processes as possible, creating transparency and predictability.

How much of NCS’s processes have been fully automated?

Nigerian Customs has a proven track record of successful implementation of ICT projects in collaboration with Partner Government Agencies in the trade chain, currently, the Service has commenced the implementation of e-customs project to establish a Digital Paperless Customs Administration and we will continue to work in partnership with other government agencies, financial institutions and businesses to ensure wider adoption of Blockchain technology, potentially even into Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

 Technology is seen to be disrupting several industries across the globe; do you see the adoption of Oracle’s blockchain cloud service displacing some jobs in the Nigerian customs?

I see Blockchain technology displacing legacy systems and adding value to the existing manual business process of the Nigeria Customs Service. Making such manual business processes to be automated using the current new technology thereby establishing transparency, trust and creating new opportunity for knowledge and more job roles.

 How would the adoption of this technology that enables full automation of customs excise trade business be of benefit to local manufacturers who are looking to import goods?

With the deployment of this technology, the crave for imported goods in Nigeria will gradually reduce, assisting local manufacturers have information relating to the goods they produce, including the quality of such products (creating standards) easily available to the global market, thereby attracting new clients globally and increase export instead of import, which will eventually bring about balance of trade for the Nigeria economy.

Adopting this technology is a move in the right direction; however, are there plans for the NCS to migrate its entire business environment to blockchain to eliminate smuggling activities?

Yes, the adoption started with the proof of concept (POC), this was a deliberate approach to test the technology and its process in terms of operational value and reliability. After a successful implementation and satisfaction of the solution value benefits for the Excise, Free Trade Zones and Incentive department, the blockchain technology will then be adopted into the entire business process of the Service.

How did the NCS collect and account for revenue, collect data and secure Nigeria’s borders prior to the adoption of this technology?

We piloted Oracle’s Blockchain-as-a-Service to provide Nigerian Customs Service with a trusted platform for the full automation of Customs Excise Trade business processes and procedures that improves transparency by allowing us to document and track products that are manufactured locally, right from the source of licensing and permits for manufacturing, to distribution and point of sale. An automated Excise will enable Nigeria to have reliable statistical data of its manufacturing base, and goods produced in Nigeria. In addition, it will help control the manufacturing industry, and create standards for global competitiveness; as well as regulate illegal manufacturing of products not fit for trade and consumption.

This technology is not just about improving one organization, but will help build global trust for Nigerian Businesses, irrefutable data on goods manufactured in the country thereby, creating a favorable environment for investment.

Would this adoption of blockchain technology reduce cost of excise duty to businesses and manufacturers and further boost international trade operations?

The adoption of Blockchain technology will reduce the cost of doing business, every business will be done online in a trusted digital distributed ledger environment, it will reduce person to person contact, pervades corruption, eliminate unnecessary travelling and cost, all information regarding production process in Excise trade from raw materials to final products will be made available to everyone, thereby, ensuring trust and boosting international trade for made in Nigeria goods.

Since the deployment of this technology to curb corruption, have you seen significant increase in revenue? If so, how much?

With Information Communication Technology (ICT), NCS have been able to improve revenue collection from about 195,000,000 USD per month to over 280,000,000 USD. It is expected that once the Excise Trade Automation on Blockchain is fully completed, NCS will see a revenue growth increase of about 50%.Technology brings about inclusive understanding of all parties involved in that business process or service, and when it comes to the business process of Government the transparency attributed to this technology will instantly make it difficult for corruption to survive. Corruption survives where there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of policies, business process and procedures especially where this is not made transparent to all parties involved.

Are there specific trainings given to staff on the need for storage of data in the cloud and the use of this technology? How many of your staff has been trained since the deployment of the technology?

The training is ongoing, and currently we have about 25 officers involved in the initial pilot stage, trained by Oracle. The capacity building will increase as the final implementation progresses.

 With data stored in the cloud, are there plans for the NCS to frequently release figures and easily accessible data to show trends of Nigeria’s supply chain and trade activities on a global scale?

Yes

 What drove NCS’s decision to adopt Oracle’s blockchain cloud services rather than any other cloud solution available today?

 

Oracle offers an easy way to adopt Blockchain leveraging its cloud service which is scalable, fully managed and can be easily integrated with our existing system.NCS chose to embrace Blockchain Technology which is different from the adoption of cryptocurrency, because we believe Blockchain will help drive transparency and trust in our Excise trade by providing irrefutable data on goods manufactured in Nigeria. It will also drive investment in goods manufactured in Nigeria because trusted information on all products will be available on the platform.