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Easy access to the data related to the Single Window of each country

1. What are the types of Single Window and their scopes?

Based on observation and the analysis of Single Windows existing world-wide, there are three (3) categories of Single Windows:

  • Single Windows for clearance formalities;
  • Single Windows for logistics coordination;
  • Single Windows for B2B transactions.
These three categories seem distinct but they can integrate perfectly to one another. Their implementation can be handled either by the same authority or by different entities. In any case, coordination of the operations is essential. In case of a sole authority, it is highly recommended to establish a gradual approach with a maturation time likely to foster the in-depth appropriation of all components of the system.
Single Windows for clearance formalities


Single Windows for logistics coordination


Single Windows for B2B transactions




2. What are the key success factors?

Stakeholders, those in the public sphere in particular, generally find it difficult to accept any evolution of operational procedures, even if the said evolution is likely to step up the efficiency of their daily operations. On the whole, private stakeholders (Banks, Insurance companies) are not resistant as they do identify quickly the operational and economic benefit of such an evolution like the implementation of a Single Window. The difficulty lies in public stakeholders and, it is recommended to properly unveil the stakes of the SW project to all parties in a bid to reach consensus and proper appropriation.

To this end, it is important to conduct an objective analysis of the level of stakeholders’ commitment all along the project with the view to defining a strategy for the mobilization of all.

See the table:

In a bid to have all guarantees of success of a SW project, it is essential to fathom, on a permanent basis, the level of commitment of stakeholders. This level must ideally remain all along the project, in the green section of the table above, if we want to gather all the conditions of success. Actually, a Single Window is usually perceived by stakeholders as simply prompting a loss of influence and control in the daily operations, to the benefit of other entities.

In a bid to step up the level of mobilization, it is important to communicate regularly on the project by highlighting the tangible and quantifiable gains and, the future roles devolved on each party in the new system. In addition, integrating stakeholders in the project cycle is a good practice that helps anticipate and mitigate the risks and problems that might spring up and, maintain a high level of commitment. However, if this approach appears to be inadequate after many attempts, the resort to the Governmental authority for arbitration might be necessary.




3. What is the legal and statutory framework necessary for the implementation of the Single Window?

The legal and statutory framework encompasses all the laws, decrees, rulings, conventions and memorandums likely to govern the procedures to be applied as part of trade-related operations. Depending on the induced operational changes, requirements of the statutory framework can be more or less high. Basically, the Single Window can operate based on two different legal models:

  • Model 1: Single Window operations without electronic signature (the SW being a platform for automated processes and data exchanges);
  • Model 2: Single Window operations with electronic signature (the SW accommodates paperless procedures).

In the case of Model 1, it is not necessary to change the legal framework at the beginning of the project. For example, most of the customs management systems have been established in many countries without any need to change the law. What is necessary in this case is that stakeholders should agree to receive requests lodged electronically and process them online. Customs can be connected to the SW platform and receive the authorizations/permits without signature.



However, in the case of Model 2, the electronic documents replace the paper-based document. It is therefore necessary to have a legal framework governing this new document format. It is also necessary to have in place the right infrastructure likely to accommodate electronic signature and archiving. These laws might exist as they are not specific to Single Windows only, but pertain to all electronic transactions. In the case of a Single Window integrating paperless formalities, it might be necessary to enact the laws listed below to sustain the new operational procedures. These laws are:
  • Law on the protection of personal data;
  • Law on electronic transactions;
  • Law on cybercrime;
  • Law on cryptography.

Besides, the fact of one country belonging to a given Economic Community can also cause restrictions that have to be considered as constraints for the application of some rules.

As to the international documents, their validity beyond the national frontiers can be challenged because of the non-recognition of electronic documents or the electronic signature in the country of destination. Lastly, the strong involvement at the highest level of the Government, as mentioned above, is essential to enact laws, rules and memorandums that will govern the new SW procedures.

4. What are the different Single Window options?

There are three implementation modes generally practiced throughout the world:

  • Development of the solution and internal operation capacity;
  • Option for a solution provider and internal operation capacity;
  • Choice of a service provider in the form of franchise or BOT contract.

Each formula has advantages and drawbacks, the extent of which varies from one context to another. The following matrix addresses the issue and enables decision-makers to find the best formula suitable to their country:




The table below sums up the different options analysed in the perspective of the National Champion appointed to steer the Single Window implementation:


5. What business model for the Single Window?

The business models for Single Windows are heavily dependent on the initial conditions in the host environment (political, economic, social and technological conditions) but also on a proper identification and management of the prerequisites at project onset. A thorough estimate of the SW implementation costs is imperative. This will be based on an inclusive approach targeting all stakeholders for an accurate identification of the needs in terms of infrastructure, hardware, human resources, training, communication, etc. The aim is to have a model likely to ensure equilibrium in the funding of the three sequences of the project: implementation, operation and upgrade of the Single Window. On the whole, three business models have been identified:

  • Non-charge model;
  • Balance models (PPP);
  • Profit-making model.

Non-charge model

This model is applied in cases where the funding for the implementation, operation and evolution of the Single Window is entirely provided by the Government or secured from donors. What motivates a Government to provide funding for the different stages of a SW Project is the resolve to improve the business environment through the facilitation of trade-related formalities and the proper management of the Single Window (e.g.: Finland, Republic of Korea, Sweden, U.S.A., Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Philippines, Tunisia 5). The major risk in a strong involvement of a Government in the funding of all stages of a SW Project lies in the possible absence of adequate resources to ensure its upgradability particularly in developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This situation can adversely impact the performances of the Single Window and hence, the option to associate the private sector and donors can be envisaged. Very often, donors support the implementation of the Single Window and, the Government takes over to provide funding for its operation. However, donors can come on board ultimately to support the SW upgradability needs.



Balance models (PPP)

This model concerns mainly the Single Windows implemented as part of a PPP that brings on board the Government and the private sector. This PPP model is limited to the management and steering of the project. The logic of stepping up the competitive foreign trade environment is at the heart of this mutually beneficial partnership (e.g.: Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Senegal, Singapore, Cameroon, Morocco, Congo, etc.). Generally, SW services established under PPP are payable. But the tariffs are often negotiated or approved (Senegal), the objective being to ensure equilibrium in the operation. In some cases, the use of the SW is optional (Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Sweden, U.S.A., Republic of Korea), whereas in other countries, it is mandatory (Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Mauritius, Republic of Korea, Senegal). The PPP model presents the advantage of being complementary to the other types of funding available as it gives the latitude to call on to the Government or donors, if need be, depending on the opportunities or the context.


Profit-making model

When the private sector provides funding for the different stages of the SW Project (e.g.: Germany, Guatemala), it integrates its prime motivation which is the quest for profit, hence the option to offer payable services. Thus, the profit-making logic can result in high costs of the services offered through the SW. To avoid this, the Government must ensure the quality/cost balance in the SW operation by providing grants if need be, but also by mobilizing donors to provide funding for SW investment and upgrade programme.

The SW business models are synthesised as follows: