Information technology is a major component of facilitation improvements. There are a number of ways to fund these initiatives. UNCTAD has training programs related to ASYCUDA implementation for customs operation. Other information sharing platforms must be a key part of implementation and lend themselves to MDB funding and private sector development. Software companies offer many innovative ways of funding development and use which spread the payment over time. Here is an excellent example of an innovative approach:
Ghanaian Customs is engaged in a major initiative - GCNet - to modernise their system with a comprehensive transit system for sealing cargo, computerising entries with access nationwide, GPS tracking of vehicles, statistical data gathering and sharing, etc. It is being done through a specialised software design company in a joint venture with Ghanaian Customs (CEPS), Ghana Shippers Council, EcoBank and DFH.
GCNet is paid for its services, which are meant to recover the initial and on-going system development costs, maintenance, on-going operations, support of the system operations and the cost for the replacement/renewal 5 year cycle of all hardware and software installations plus profit over time. Any profit / surplus is shared among shareholders in the form of dividend payments. The fee for services is based on:
- GCNet collecting a "Network fee" for each import processed through the TradeNet and Ghana Customs Management System. This is based on an ad valorem formula.
- Export declarations are free of charge in order to support the Ghanaian Export sector
- Transit declarations attract a fixed fee of 50$ covering the cost for the Transit Monitoring Infrastructure
The business model is based on the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model and the "philosophy" of the company can be summarised as follows:
- GCNet provides, installs, supports and maintains the systems before, during AND after implementation, thereby guaranteeing project continuity and success in a difficult environment.
- GCNet continually improves the system to meet the developing requirements of its clients and partners.
If the Transit Tracking facility, for example, were provided to other customs services on regional Corridors, they would follow the current model whereby the company undertakes all capital investments and then recoups these via a flat fee per sub-consignment (per truck basically). This would be for a pre-determined term or mandate i.e. 5 year operating concession.