AUTOMATED PASSENGER CLEARANCE SYSTEM AT RWANDA BUSIEST LAND BORDER POST
DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION AND EMIGRATION

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE) is a public institution of the Republic of Rwanda with the following mandate: a) issuing travel documents to Rwandans, b) issuance of entry visa, resident/work permits, and citizenship to foreigners, c) border management. “The DGIE mission is to create a secure and enabling environment for increased trade, investment, tourism and skills development through professional conduct and quality service”. Rwanda’s busiest land border is called Poids-lourds with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and it is one of the busiest in Africa. The border receives an average of forty five thousand (45,000) travelers crossing the border on daily basis and eighty percent (80%) of them are the citizen of the two neighboring cities, Rubavu District in Rwanda and the city of Goma in the DRC. These citizens are known as “Border communities”. Rwanda and DRC have bilateral agreement to facilitate the citizens living in the neighborhood of the border to cross the border on daily basis without a need for a visa or formal travel document. The citizen can simply use their National ID card or Electoral Card as a valid travel document subject to a return in the origin country on the same day. During peek hours in the morning between 6am to 10am and 4pm to 6pm, there were long queues that could extend to more than 300 meters whether it is during rainy season or day season. The situation was chaotic especially to young children going to school and people with disability who use the border for trading. The process was not effective in both core principles of Immigration work, which is balancing security and facilitation. The clearance process involved manual verification of each individual after which they would receive a stamped single-entry border pass valid for only 24 hours. They would then cross and present the border pass and ID to the immigration officials at the other side of the border. Since individuals cross more than once per day, that would mean printing of more border passes. This manual process exposed both countries to security risks, delayed cross-border traders and school children who study at either side of the border. The process also involved use of lots of paper coupons, which in the long run, was not only costly, but also negatively impacts the environment if one is to go by the raw materials to make the paper and the litter caused by used paper. It was indeed difficult to know who comes in or goes out and the exact statistics of the cross border movements. The process created fatigue to workers and was more challenging to clear the travelers when it rained. The Government of Rwanda thought of different facilitations that could be introduced to facilitate free movement of people. Therefore, an Automated Passenger Clearance System (APCS) was introduced at Poids-Lourds border Post. The traveller can now make a self-clearance by use of finger prints in no more than 16 seconds per person.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution was to introduce an efficient and effective IT based solution suitable to existing challenges. This is the Automated Passenger Clearance System (APCS) designed specifically to clear travelers while issuing travel document at the same time. The system contributes to facilitation of free movements of people, optimum use of available space at the border and improvement of productivity.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The APCS at Poids-Lourds border post was introduced in 2013. The target population was the border communities in order to facilitate them while establishing a balance between facilitation and security. The APCS helped improving the border control with efficiency in clearance time from one minutes to sixteen (16) seconds, prediction not based on daily verification but accurate statistics, and in particular it improved the lives of the border community because a person may cross the border more often than it used to be, therefore trade more. The person is assured of his/ her business. Members of the border community are registered, particulars and biometric fingerprints captured. A card is produced to be used as key to open the gates. The first gate is opened with the card; the traveler uses the finger print to second set of gates opens and allow him/her to proceed while the system starts with the next traveler. The detection system verifies one person at a time. The workflow is the same for the special lanes of people with disability but their auto-gates, commonly known as wheel chair kiosks do not detect one person at a time but simply issues a border pass after successful verification of the finger print. This has reduced the amount of paper used in addition to fast and thorough verification mechanisms. The system can be used 24/7 non-stop. The system improved the lives of people by saving time; a person would cross the border more often as it used to be which increased trade and welfare of the local population in general. Two Lanes of the APCS dedicated to people with disability have also contributed to their welfare. The satisfaction survey conducted in 2015 indicated that the introduction of the APCS promoted the cross border movements. It was indeed facilitation in the free movement of people. There has been an increase of more than 40% on the number of travelers using the border as well as the number of movements, noting that 80% of them are the border communities. Indeed with the high flow of traders at Poids-Lourds border post, in August 2016, the Governments of Rwanda and DRC exonerated a list of 168 commodities from paying import duties. Before the introduction of the APCS, there were 120 registered tricycles and trolleys but currently 230 are registered to be used for transportation of goods between the two countries. People with disability and members of the border communities have cooperatives as cross border traders. They use tricycles (kind of wheel chair) of which they park goods and transport them to the markets in either Rwanda or DRC. One tricycle can carry up to one tone of goods.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
APCS are widely known as Automated Border Control (ABC). It was introduced as best practice of other countries but modeled to resolve a unique problem. It was found practical to replicate the same in Rwanda but in its special context. Citizens that make informal trade carry their luggage in manual ways (on their heads, backs or in hands) except the people with disability who use tricycles. These conditions dictated the design of a special ABC that can be able to cope with problem. • It works in an outside and open environment: This brings conveniences to the citizens. • Once in the control zone, a person will have to proceed and if he/she does not have proper document, will be detected. • The system is innovative as it prints border passes valid for only 24 hours and contains a security number which can be used for movements’ records. • Special lane for people with disability: The APCS was designed to cater for such category of users. • Conditions to use finger prints: for conveniences, it was important to choose a biometric which could make life easier to the travelers especially those carrying their luggage on heads or their backs.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative was implemented by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE) in collaboration with local authorities and Private Sector Federation (PSF). The district of Rubavu had the same challenge as DGIE of managing its population that trades across the border on daily basis. The Private Sector Federation also needed a system which can help cross border traders. The population affected by the initiative is about 70,000. The next line is the people and business whose survival relies on those crossing the borders; these include families and other service providers and schools. The project started by the border community of Rubavu District. They are citizens living in the defined sectors: Rubavu, Rugerero, Gisenyi, Nyamyumba, Bugeshi, Busasamana and Cyanzarwe. Sixty nine thousand and four hundred and fifty (69,450) citizens are registered and use the auto-gates to cross the border. Indeed the registration is continuous. About 260,917 residents of the mentioned sectors can benefit from the system to visit or conduct business in Goma populated by around 1,7million of people. As soon as the traveler who belongs to the border community wishes to cross the border he/ she is registered and allowed to use the APCS. The registration is done once for all and can be done in one minute by using the National ID card.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The conception of the APCS started back in July 2012. An internal project team was formed and was made of the Technical Engineers. Later the team was extended and included stakeholders from other Ministries which formed the technical committee. The committee included technical experts from Rwanda Development Board (RDB), National Identification Agency (NIDA), Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and Rwanda National Police, Rubavu district authorities, Private Sector Federation and representative of cross border traders. The team worked together to initiate the project, develop the technical specifications necessary to procure the system, implement the project and carry out the awareness and post implementation management. The APCS being new project of its nature in the country, the technical committee had no all expertise. It was therefore important to conduct research, consult individual experts and carry out study tours were similar projects were successfully implemented. A small group of technicians had a study tour in Hong Kong where the Immigration Department in Hong Kong, shared with them their experience on ABC. An independent consultant was used to put in place ideas on how to design the system. In October 2013, the APCS was installed and the registration process started. An awareness program started via public talk show on radio and different consultative meetings with the local leaders. Mass registration of the citizens took five months, followed by use of the APCS by volunteering travelers. In January 2015, all the travelers of the border communities were obliged to use the auto-gates when crossing the border. The statistics indicate a daily crossing of about 45,000 travelers of the Rwandan community. The APCS project was funded by the Government of Rwanda through the development budget. Today, the APCS is maintained by the DGIE IT department that carries out the system maintenance and project management for future extension. There is good return on investment in human capacity, in terms of reducing number of staff who works at the border and reduction in terms of clearance time.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The project was initiated by the DGIE Management. It formed a project team made of the experts from the IT, Legal and Procurement departments. The team was headed by the Director responsible of the Border Management. • Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC); technical advice, assistance in the awareness Campaign and assistance of the Local Leaders in the awareness campaign and registration process. • Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA); technical advice and acquisition of land to construct the building that would host the auto-gates • Private Sector Federation (PSF); technical advice, determination of traders’ needs participation in concept and analysis. • Association of women cross border traders and association of people with disability operating tricycles for trade; requirements initiation and validation • National Identification Agency (NIDA); technical support on citizens’ registration and support on use of the biometric data. • Rwanda Development Board (RDB) - IT department; technical support on network infrastructure and use of optic fiber. • Rwanda National Police (RNP); law enforcement DGIE recognizes the work done and support provided by all the stakeholders. It could not implement this project without their support. In the project’s weekly meetings, stakeholders participated with all their efforts towards the successful project completion.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The APCS has tremendously boosted the cross border movements, increased the workers’ productivity and boosted the informal trade which contributes to the country’s economy. We can list five concrete outputs of the project: • Increased number of travelers: before introduction of the APCS, the number of travelers crossing the border including the border communities was in the range of 25,000 travelers per day. Today the daily movement records indicate between 40,000 to 45,000 travelers. That is almost a double of the previous numbers. We note that 70 % of the travelers using the border are the border communities. • Increased number of cooperatives of the disabled persons: the disable persons at the border have different cooperatives involved in informal trade. Before the introduction of the APCS, it took longer to clear the disable persons with their goods. Usually, disabled persons use tricycle to park the goods. One tricycle is used by up to six (6) persons. The driver who is always the disable person and at least two to three helpers and sometimes up to five (5) depending on the size of the luggage. Today we count 200 Cooperatives from 120 before APCS. • Enhancing border control: before the APCS, the Immigration officers carried out manual clearance of all travelers. The work was quite difficult and tiresome as it required first to manually read the names written on the ID card, do manual verification, and then issues the border pass. Being a manual process it was difficult to insure an efficient control. The Officers could not work in a consistent manner for up to 12 hours whereas the APCS does so. • Increased worker productivity: two individuals manage ten (10) auto-gates and two (2) wheel chair kiosks on daily basis. There is a mandatory Officer in the control room of the APCS. He/ she monitor all activities inside the auto-gates whereas the second Officer assist and guide travelers who may need any assistance especially novice travelers and the wheel chair kiosks. • Secure identification of travelers: travelers are securely identified through the use of their finger prints. The auto-gate detects one person at a time. It has the capability to detect tail gating and travelers who may use cards which do not belong to them.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The APCS being the first of its kind in the country was a challenging project in nature. The challenges included: • Mass registration of the border community: During that period even those who were not planning to travel came for registration. This created long queues in a way that some attended the offices at mid-night to register in the morning from 7:00AM. It required carrying out an intensive public awareness and informing the citizens that the registration will continue. • Novice Users: in the beginning none of the citizens was aware of the system usage. Novice travelers were not confident enough of the self-clearance. When including the human behaviors it could take up to a minute for clearance instead of 16 seconds. It required accompanying travelers until they become more used. • Choice of biometric: use of finger print was the best choice when considering the citizens activities where some transport goods on their head or backs. Facial recognition could not be an option. However, finger print matching took longer simply that the hands of some of the citizens were not clean. With the awareness they were engaged in proper usage of the system, hence cleaning of their hands. • Mind set: some citizens resisted on the system. There were rumors that using the APCS would affect their health status. Through the awareness program, these citizens were explained of the functionality of the system and that it will not affect any health system of individual. • Resistance to Change: some staff at the border, resisted on the use of the system. There were long queues caused by mass registration and assistance to the citizens to use the system. An awareness program was done and as a result they ended up seeing the system helpful than causing hectic work to them.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The impacts resulting from the introduction of the APCS include time saving, space management, queues management, movement control, and facilitating movement of people. • Time saving: self-clearance can be done within 16 seconds whereas the manual clearance could be done up to 45 seconds if proper verification was conducted for the traveler. Time especially for students and informal traders is highly saved. Students do not find themselves on the queues whether at departure or arrival when returning back home. During peek hours, students can be facilitated by dedicating a special lane for them making their clearance much quicker and convenient to them. Besides, informal traders are also quickly served making life easier to them, to attend the market at any time of their convenience. The facilitation increased the number of informal traders which motivated both countries to sign different trade agreements. In October 2016, Rwanda and DR Congo signed a new agreement establishing a framework for bilateral cooperation in the area of cross-border trade and elimination of non-tariff barriers. The move sought to ease small-scale trade by waiving import duty on products whose worth is below $2000 which is also helping thousands of small-scale cross-border traders, largely women, to carry out their daily business smoothly. • Increase of Trade between Rubavu and Goma population. • Space and Queues management: there are ten extended lanes of the auto-gates for normal travelers, and two special lanes for persons with disability. Since the auto-gate detects one person at a time, the rest of travelers must be on a queue. The Queues are easily managed because the travelers arrange the queues themselves. It would create chaos to align ten lanes without these auto-gates. • Promotion of free movement of people: the time saved to the travelers brings to them the free movement as they can travel at any time and be assured that there won’t be long queues. Such free movements have increased social-economic activities among the neighboring citizens.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
There is less contact between officers and travellers which reduces possibility of corruption. Use of APCS is in line country’s efforts to connect ICTs potentials to increase accountability and transparency in public service. The APCS being self-service system would help prevent any attempt in corruption. The traveler does not have any direct contact with the Immigration Officer which is an added value to the integrity of the Institution. From the survey done in January 2017, citizens can witness the Government accountability from the establishment of a self-service facilitating the travelers to quickly cross the border. In particular people with disabilities using the trolleys are happy of the facilitation established for them. It helps in quality control of their Cooperatives as they must all register for using the facilities. The country is working to leverage latest ICT capabilities such as mobility to deliver citizen-centric and accountable governance.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Cross Border movements and trade play an important role in poverty reduction as it provides trading opportunities for a good number of people. Women and girls are the most active traders along Rwanda’s borders making more than 60% of border traders. The system was established to help women traders who would wish to cross the border for trading and resume quickly other duties like taking care of children. Rwanda has offered a number of facilities to the cross border women traders particularly through Simplified Trade Regime (STR) especially the small traders who regularly transact in values lower than 2000 dollars. STR facility has impacted a lot on women in cross border trade and entire border communities in general. Other benefits include capacity building through sharing best practices with fellow women traders in DR Congo, among others. The Government of Rwanda, through responsible institutions, in a bid to promote cross border movement and trade has continuously engaged different stakeholders ( national, bilateral and regional) and established national cross-border trade coordination and monitoring committee which has significantly reduced challenges in cross border movements and trade, through simplified procedures like the use of auto-gates and removal of Non-Tariff Barriers.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION AND EMIGRATION
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   TWAHIRWA MELODY
Title:   DIRECTOR  
Telephone/ Fax:   +250 788 35 25 20 / +250 722 17 78 69
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   office@migration.gov.rw  
Address:   KIGALI-KACYIRU
Postal Code:   6229
City:   KIGALI
State/Province:   CITY OF KIGALI
Country:  

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