#MondayBlues: Zimra Must Dump The Foreign ASYCUDA System


The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Zimra since 2015, has been continuously making excuses of downtime blaming the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), a move which rather exposes the management as they fail to keep the internationally procured system on the grind.

For the umpteenth time, Millions Of dollars have  been lost from Zimbabwe as the system was recently down from the 13th of December till the month end, a sign that the local team has failed to manage the system and should get something they can afford  local support.

The Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) is a computerized system designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to administer a country’s customs. In 2004 there were more than 50 operational projects with expenditures exceeding US$7 million. It is the largest technical cooperationprogramme of the UNCTAD, covering over 80 countries and 4 regional projects.

Ironically, most SADC countries and 90 others are actually running on the same system perfectly with few glitches in Zambia  but Zimbabwe has been always been facing continuous downtime issues. Their e filing system  is also terribly optimised with main page loading more than 2.8 MB. This result falls beyond the top 1M of websites with loads of java script  identified as large and not optimized web page.


There are three generations of ASYCUDA in use: ASYCUDA version 2.7, ASYCUDA++ [1] and ASYCUDA World. They were built using different paradigms and solutionsavailable at conception.[clarification needed] ASYCUDA World is the most recent version. Cape Verde adopted use of ASYCUDA World in January 2016.

In 1981 UNCTAD received a request from the secretariat of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) to assist in the compilation of foreign trade statistics in their member States. After an initial evaluation it became quickly apparent that this would require the involvement of Customs clearance offices, and the modernization of Customs clearance procedures, to achieve quality results.

Taking advantage of advances in computer technology (the Personal Computer had at that time matured to be seriously considered as a business tool) UNCTAD proposed to develop a Customs software system which would be modular, adaptable and configurable so that it could be used in difficult environments requiring only a small number of trained maintenance staff.

This proposal was received with a lot of skepticism considering that many countries used mainframes system with on-site specialized computer engineers to support them. Despite that UNCTAD succeeded with the assistance of some member States to develop such a system, which is now commonly known under its name ASYCUDA.

ASYCUDA was originally developed on micro computers which were extremely limited by today’s standards. In order to implement a complex Customs system in a multi user environment on such a platform a technical solution had to be applied which stretched the capacity of these machines to their limit.

However, over the years capacity and performance of micro computers have rapidly improved and major revisions of the ASYCUDA software have led to a very stable and highly reliable system. In addition, a porting to the UNIX operating system has broadened the choice of suitable hardware platforms to include also a number of mini computers.

In order to benefit from the latest innovations in information technology (IT) the ASYCUDA Technical Development and Implementation unit (ATDI) has designed and developed ASYCUDA++ which uses object oriented tools in a client/server architecture and is based on a relational data base management system (RDBMS). This version has been ported to a wide range of both Intel and risc-based platforms.



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