The Nigerian Ports Authority NPA and its Senegalese counterpart; Port Autonome De Dakar under the auspices of the Maritime Organisations of West and Central Africa MOWCA, have agreed to work together towards optimising both trade among African nations and that with the rest of the global trading community. This is as part of measures to boost the economy of the continent as a trading bloc.

This is against the backdrop of recent statistics, which indicate that the African continent controls less than four per cent of total global trade while Singapore, a small island country with less than 20 million population and very little or no natural resources controls about 25per cent of the global trade, a development that gave rise for the need for the continent to work as a unit to reverse this ugly trade trajectory.

Both port regulatory authorities therefore believe that the best approach to achieve this is by adopting regional integration among African countries by removing all impediments to trade, with a view to boosting intra African trade and ultimately trade with the rest of the world.

This synergy is coming on the heels of recent visit by some officials of the Federal Ministry of Transport and those of the NPA to the Port of Dakar aimed at forging a common front in terms of increasing Africa’s share of the global trade using the platform created by the MOWCA.

Secretary General of Port of Dakar, Madame Nafissatou Ba NIANG, who played host to the Nigerian delegation, noted that the country is open to networking and partnerships that would improve the current status of African countries visa vis those of other regions of the world, especially Europe, America and Asia in the global trade arena.

“There is urgent need for integration among Africa, partnership and the adoption of good business practices within Africa in the interest of all. Africa must also boost regional trade mong member nations and Africa’s development must start from within because nobody would do it for her if she fails to do it for herself”, the Secretary General also said.

Available facts show that the Port of Dakar has a lot of operational similarities with those of Nigeria, especially Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Ports Complex, both in Apapa, Lagos, south west of Nigeria.

Director of Strategy and Transformation for the Port of Dakar, Momar Ngry BA, who undertook a slide presentation on the operational systems of the port, disclosed that the port, which projects to emerge a regional logistic hub by 2023, is built on a 170 hectares of water basin with port infrastructure developed between 1857-1960.

Just like Nigeria, the Port of Dakar, which operates a landlord concession port model in 2016 decided to develop a deep seaport as part of efforts to reduce congestion at the existing facilities, many of which have been cut up in the web of urbanisation and therefore cannot be expanded any further to cater for the increasing trade volumes and population of the country.

The Port of Dakar has a 21-hectares terminal dedicated for the handling and processing of fish as well as a robust transhipment terminal with over 22 million metric tonnes of transhipment cargo for the land locked Mali, which gives it over 70 per cent control of Malian market.

Recall that Nigerian government through the NPA is doing everything humanly possible to boost the country’s non-oil export trade profile, especially in agricultural produce to other African nations and to the rest of the world.

One of these efforts culminated in the recent decision of the NPA management to create more export handling terminals at the Lily Pond Terminal, Apapa and Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, both in Lagos, where export products from the hinterlands of the country are processed and packaged for exports without much encumbrances.

The authority is also working on establishing even more non-oil export handling terminals in other port locations across the country, especially among the eastern ports in Calabar, Port Harcourt and Onne, where non-oil exports, mainly agricultural produce and other mineral resources are processed, packaged and exported to other parts of the world including Africa.