The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Singapore have selected the Port of Lobito, Angola, for a pilot project to establish a digitalised system for electronic exchange of information in ports for ship clearance.
The Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) Project was launched in March 2021 with a call for expressions of interest to participate.
Following overwhelming response received from applicants, the project will begin its pilot phase with the Port of Lobito, before being scaled up to benefit more countries in the next phase.
The SWiFT Project will develop a system for the pilot port to allow electronic submission, through one single portal, of all information required by various government agencies when a ship calls at a port. This concept is known as the Maritime Single Window (MSW) system.
Under the pilot project, the selected country will be advised on the necessary legal, policy and institutional requirements for the MSW system. The port will then be provided with functional MSW software, hardware and/or IT services, configured to the country’s needs. Training will also be provided, as well as advice on policy reforms required to successfully implement an MSW.
The pilot will be supported by Singapore via in-kind contributions and by IMO via the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP).
The implementation of specific activities of the pilot will commence by 15 November 2021.
Regulations in the IMO’s Facilitation (FAL) Convention require electronic exchange of data to ensure the efficient clearance of ships. The single window concept is recommended, in order to avoid duplication of effort.
Individual data elements should only be submitted once, electronically through a single point of entry, to the relevant regulatory agencies and other parties.
Julian Abril, Head of IMO’s Facilitation Section, commented, “Increased digitalisation supports greater efficiency which benefits the ship, the port and wider supply chain.
“We want to support countries that may be having difficulties in implementing the FAL Convention requirements for electronic data exchange, by supporting a pilot project which will show the way and result in know-how which can then be shared with others.”
Located on the west coast of Angola, Port of Lobito is a gateway port for the west Africa. It handles containers, dry bulk and mining materials, serving the economic development of the central and southern regions of Angola.
PTI interviewed the IMO and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in May 2021 on the SWiFT Project, which will target African Ports, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in digitalising MSW systems.