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Customs fully automated with $3.2bn project

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By Abraham Adekunle

FEC ratified the NCS modernization scheme since September 2020.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said its operations are set to become fully automated as it inaugurated a $3.2 billion modernization project to end manual administration. The Comptroller-General of the NCS, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, inaugurated the project in Abuja, and is being handled by Trade Modernization Project Limited (TMPL). He said that the service embarked on the project to strengthen the processes of the service and eradicate Corruption. The project was started in 2015 and will be delivering state-of-the-art Technology for the agency.

Ali noted that the NCS decided on automation because of its numerous benefits, adding that digitization drives efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness. He said that the project would help NCS adapt to changing market dynamics while assisting to automate operations and unlock Revenue to contribute to Economic Growth and the well-being of Nigerians. The comptroller said that the inauguration is a celebration of the NCS determination, resilience and foresight. “Every step that has been taken has been a testament to our commitment to embracing the power of digitization,” he said.

NCS still requires the same manpower even after the upgrade.

There have been concerns that adopting the technology would reduce the use of manpower. Ali said such an assertion was unfounded. According to him, modernization will engender the service’s desire to recruit more personnel. He added that the project would require a lot of manpower to effectively cover the borders and ensure the Security of the people. Meanwhile, Chairman of TMPL, Mr. Saleh Ahmadu, said the $3.2 billion Investment will generate over 200 billion dollars in revenue for the service.

He revealed that financing for the first stage of the project is in the sum of 300 million dollars. “This is with a cashback 9 million dollars performance fund, which has been secured through financial partners,” he said. Also, Ahmadu revealed that capacity building was one of the priorities of the project, adding that a substantial part of the project will go into building the capacity of staff. Seeing as this is a new model, the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that the agency needs to adapt and thrive with the new technology will be developed and strengthened.

Implementation of the project approved April 2023.

Former minister of state, budget and national planning, Mr. Clem Agba, spoke on the processes that led to the inauguration of the project. He said that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the implementation of the e-customs project to a concessionaire on April 20, 2023. The concessionaire has Bergman securities consultant and suppliers limited as the project sponsor, Africa Finance Corporation, UFC as the lead financier, and Huawei Technologies will be trained as the lead technical service provider.

Agba said that the concessionaire has furnished the government with 9 million dollars (N4.135 billion) in security from the satisfactory performance of the project. They have also executed the depth facility tensions of 300 million dollars (N138 billion) to finance the first phase of the project. The revenue-sharing formula is 45 percent of accruals to the comprehensive input service scheme to the concessionaire and 55 percent to the federal government, five percent of what accrues to the Nigerian responsible action scheme, and 75 percent of such to the federal government.

Project has been in the works since 2020 when FEC ratified it.

A few years ago, stakeholders heaved a sigh of relief and applause as the FEC, which former President Buhari presided over, ratified the NCS modernization scheme. The then-Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, presented the memo approving the e-customs project for the complete automation of the NCS processes and procedures. This will involve using the application of information and communication technology (ICT) in all aspects of the agency’s administration. Three years later, the new administration has inaugurated the project.


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