The UNCTAD data evaluation tool was developed as part of its Automated System for Customs (ASYCUDA), which helps developing countries modernise customs clearance processes.
The new system, The Mineral Output Statistical Evaluation System (Moses), is already helping Zambia track mining revenue.
Moses, developed by the Zambia Revenue Authority and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, is helping the country track illicit trade practices and recover funds.
The Zambian government tracked about US$1 million in unpaid export dues from mining companies within a year of piloting Moses in 2016.
Trade misinvoicing, under declaration of exports, and other fraudulent trade practices cost Zambia about US$12,5 billion between 2013 and 2015, according to UNCTAD’s 2020 Economic Development in Africa Report.
In addition to tracking minerals as they leave mines for borders, Moses allows companies to submit monthly production reports electronically to the government.
Zambia is Africa’s second-largest producer of copper after the DRC. The red metal accounted for 69 per cent of the value of Zambia’s exports in 2017, but the UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates the country accounted for 65 per cent of all African trade misinvoicing in copper that year.
In all, UNCTAD says Africa loses around US$89 billion annually in illicit financial flows.
“Moses quickly demonstrated its importance to Zambia’s development strategies. Compliance by mining operators has greatly improved,” said Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Mr Kingsley Chanda.
He said the system had also allowed the state to cut the period in producing national statistical reports from up to 230 days to less than a month, making it easier for policymakers to respond to trends.
Shemika Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s Technology and Logistics division said of Moses: “It helps countries take more control over who benefits from their mineral wealth.”
Sirimanne added that the system made streamlined import-export procedures, thus improving the doing business environment.