Export containers at port (file)

Nigeria’s major seaport complexes in Apapa, Tin Can Island, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri handled a total of 33.7million metric tonnes of non-oil and gas export products in the last 12 years, covering 2007 to the first quarter of 2019.

These products, many of which are agro-based include palm kernel cake, cocoa beans and wheat bran pallets. Others include cashew nuts, sesame seeds, ginger, hibiscus flower, Gum Arabic, processed rubber, shrimps, and lead ingot, processed leather and other processed non-agro based products such as Dettol antiseptic, Maggi Crayfish, biscuits, assorted bathroom slippers and ethyl alcohol, among others.

This is an indication that the country’s efforts at economic diversification through the reduction of over-dependence on oil and gas exports and promoting agro-based and solid mineral exports to earn foreign exchange is yielding results.

Meanwhile, the country through the seaports recorded a total cargo throughput of 899.3million metric tonnes of cargo comprising 562.6million metric tonnes of imports as against 33.7million metric tonnes of exports within the period under review.

Provisional figures released by the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA in its official website show that while 35.6million metric tonnes of imports were recorded in 2007, 21.9million metric tonnes of export cargo was handled at the ports, bringing to a total of 57.5million metric tonnes of cargo for the year.

The figures also show that for 2008, a total of 41.2million tonnes of imports were handled at the ports as against the 23.2million tonnes of exports handled within the year, bringing to a total of 64.4million metric tonnes even as 45.8million tonnes of imports were handled in 2009 as against the 20million tonnes of exports, which cumulatively comes to 65.8million tonnes of cargo handled in 2009.

For year 2010, a total of 76.8million tonnes of cargo were handled at the ports comprising 46.9 million tonnes of imports and 29.8million tonnes of exports while a total of 83.5million tonnes of cargo, which consists of 52million tonnes of imports and 31.5million tonnes of exports in 2011, even as import throughput declined to 46.2million while exports also declined to 30.9million tonnes, bringing to a total of 77.1million tonnes of cargo handled in 2012.

For 2013, 50million tonnes of import were handled as against the 28.3million tonnes of exports, bringing to a total of 78.3million tonnes while the cargo throughput for 2014 recorded a significant growth to a total of 84.9million tonnes comprising 53.8million tonnes of imports and 31.1million tonnes of exports while the figures declined again in 2015 to 77.4million tonnes as total throughput for the year comprising 48.1million tonnes of imports and 29.3million tonnes of exports.

However, the country’s cargo throughput fell to a six –year low in 2016; declining to 70.4million metric tonnes. This period, during which the country also experienced economic recession, having recorded negative growth in its Gross Domestic Product GDP for three consecutive quarters, could be attributable to the general economic downturn occasioned by the fall in the value of the naira against the other major currencies of the world with the attendant high inflationary rate. Thus, import volumes also fell to 43.5million tonnes while exports fell to 26.9million tonnes.

However, in 2017, while import volumes further declined to 43.1million tonnes, exports increased marginally to 28.4million tonnes, bringing to a total of 71.5million tonnes and further increased to 73.2million tonnes in 2018 comprising 45.2million tonnes of imports as against the 27.9million tonnes of exports.

For the first quarter of 2019 (January-March), the ports handled a total of 18.7million tonnes of cargo comprising 11.2million tonnes of imports and 7.5million tonnes of exports.

Experts predict that the cargo volumes may further record sharp decline in the post-COVID-19 era, as the pandemic s currently taking its toll on most economies across the globe.

The World Bank projects that the global economy might record over 5.2 per cent decline while Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product GDP is expected to contract by 3.2per cent, which will have far-reaching effects on the global supply chain.