Point of View

High-performance analytical tools to revolutionize Customs control

By M. Kuassivi, DG of JLS Africa

There are many suppliers of analytical tools that Customs can call on to enhance its risk assessment capabilities. Some propose to use selectivity models and specialized databases to analyse the transactions that Customs has to ensure are compliant.

It is advisable, however, to carry out a thorough evaluation of the tools on offer, in order to be sure that the technology performs well. Below, we will describe the model that we used to evaluate the services of a supplier, stressing how important data on companies is for the purpose of thorough profiling.


JLS Africa SAS is a company incorporated under Togolese law that specializes in issuing and managing the Bordereau Electronique de Suivi de Cargaison (BESC) (Electronic Cargo Tracking Note – ECTN), required by some African countries in connection with imports or maritime transit, which accompanies the Customs declaration.

We provide very specific technological services to track cargoes from shipment through to the country of destination. Our system supplements the Customs targeting system, allows Customs to carry out sophisticated risk management, guarantees the security of the international supply chain, gives information about consignors and illicit flows and provides reliable and secure statistics for international trade.

In 2020, we were approached by a company to develop a solution that could perform risk assessment by using digital shipment inspection technology before cargoes arrive, based on information provided in the BESCs.

Although we had the infrastructure and technical expertise to provide this service, we still needed three key elements:

  • access to comprehensive data in real time on companies, individual goods, routes and vessels;
  • algorithms that could perform multidimensional modelling; and
  • technology capable of using the existing data flows in analysis processes.

In order to evaluate a supplier’s analytical tools, we provided 30,000 former transactions and asked the supplier to send us results in real time, based on their algorithm.

The data provided on each transaction were:

  • the bill of lading number
  • the name and address of the consignor
  • the name and address of the freight forwarder
  • the name and address of the consignee
  • the name and address of the notified party
  • the name of the carrier
  • the name of the vessel
  • the date of departure
  • the loading and unloading ports
  • the final place of delivery
  • the Incoterms
  • the type of content
  • a description of the goods, HS code, volume, weight, origin
  • the FOB value


The supplier verified each transaction. When a transaction was identified as high risk, detailed information supporting the analysis was sent. Below are two of the examples of fraud detected:

  • in a cargo of agricultural equipment, a 2,886 kg discrepancy in weight was detected and verified;
  • a suspect shipment of green tea from China was subjected to a laboratory test, which established a level of pesticides higher than the acceptable standards for the goods.

Profiling of companies

The ability to profile companies and all the parties involved in a shipment accurately and at all levels, without relying on Customs data histories, is highly impressive. The analytical tools tested allow millions of companies, their connections and their conduct to be verified with precision. The information generated includes:

  • ownership structures
  • staff and employees
  • certifications
  • world trade history
  • regional trade history
  • local trade history
  • production lines
  • web presence
  • contact details
  • Customs fraud record
  • bankruptcies
  • civil litigation
  • administrative penalties
  • breaches of security
  • criminal records
  • criminal penalties
  • links with criminal groups
  • connections with terrorist organizations
  • connections with entities involved in fraud
  • trade in high-risk goods

This is even more impressive in the light of the potential implications for strengthening, enhancing and expanding authorized economic operator (AEO) programmes. The system could provide the opportunity not only for detailed verification of companies at the time of certification, in order to identify the risks of non-compliance with the AEO standards, but also for regular monitoring of the company’s compliance after certification has been obtained.

All the information, including the profiles and the results of verification in connection with the company’s application, would be provided in a centralized manner to all the stakeholders concerned and approved as part of the decision-making and verification process. This kind of system could also operate at regional level. It has many advantages. It gives Customs administrations and accreditation bodies a comprehensive, precise picture of the company applying for AEO status (and not only what is stated on the application form). It also offers all companies, irrespective of their size or location, the possibility of being considered for AEO status (in particular small and medium-sized enterprises), while reducing the time and cost involved in approving applications. Lastly and most importantly, as the accreditation body is alerted to any change in the company’s risk profile in real time, the credibility of the certification can be maintained over time.

More information