NPA MD seeks optimal utilisation of Africa’s maritime potential
From left: Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, chairman of 2018 International Association for Ports and Harbours IAPH conference, and former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar rtd. and Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman during one of the sessions of the IAPH Conference and Exhibition held in Abuja.
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman has made a strong case for optimum utilisation of maritime potential of Africa’s littoral states, saying that would enhance the growth and development of the continent, with a view to taking its pride of place within the global maritime space.
The MD, who doubles as the African Regional Vice President of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH), made this assertion at the just concluded conference of the association, which held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city with the theme: “African Ports and Hinterland Connections”.
According to her, Africa definitely has a place of pride within the global maritime space, given the fact that 39 out of the 54 countries in the continent are endowed with littoral assets, insisting that optimum utilisation of these vast maritime assets would launch her into the global arena.
She therefore enjoined operators within the continent to imbibe best practices, especially in the areas of speed of operation in service delivery as well as adopting of new techniques among several others, saying that IAPH had from inception helped to promote port development across the world through synergy and collaboration for efficient and effective port operations and shipping activities.
The NPA-boss assured that members of the association would leverage on one another’s technical expertise in line with best practices, pointing out that the use of barges, inland water ways, the efficient utilisation of dry ports and the deployment of pipelines for the evacuation of cargoes across African ports and indeed the world over is the route to go if Africa must compete within the comity of maritime nations.
‘‘Organisations like the World Trade Organisation WTO, International Maritime Organisation IMO and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD, are here to avail us the opportunity of latest global practice and environment that exists for the development of ports in Africa’’, she had said.
The conference is a gathering of technocrats, stakeholders and operators in the world under one roof in line with efforts to proffer solutions to the many questions facing port operations globally but with specific consideration on matters concerning hinterland connectivity.
Some of the topics discussed at the conference include ‘prioritisation of effective policies, funding, and infrastructural upgrade, and administrative excellence, blue economy and regional integration. Others areas of coverage include operational efficiency, digital infusion and ICT utilisation, trade facilitation, capacity building, revenue generation and other areas of best practices as may echo during the conference.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari had while speaking at the event advocated the effective deployment of improved port infrastructure across all countries within the continent in order to maximise maritime potential within the territory.
President Buhari submitted that the linkage of port operation to the hinterland by multi modal transport techniques would result in the commendable economic growth and improved standard of living of the people. He therefore charged participants to synergise and collaborate with one another.
According to him, this inter-connectivity would infer in great measures enabling environment and frontier for competitive edges if well managed. He added that the availability of standard rail lines and effective road networks among others would result in plausible Africa’s prosperity across board.
He assured that the same level of serious attention was being given to the improved road infrastructure: “At the moment, 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across six geopolitical zones of the country just as we have insisted on the stimulation of activities on the inland waterways”, the President had said.
He also disclosed that as part of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan ERGP,of the government, the ease of doing business would help drive trade facilitation both in the nation, across Africa and by implication the world at large.
In his address, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi urged participants at the 3-day conference to optimise their comparative advantages in order to improve the welfare of the people.
He stated that the government is committed to the deployment of multi transportation modes of operation in the sector, by way of improved rail services and other supply chains to the hinterland.
The minister said: “With the development of the inland dry port in Kano and Kaduna, with the direct rail connection also, cargoes and containers are easily transported to northern Nigeria. We are partnering the government of Niger Republic in the construction of Maradi from Kano to promote regional motivation of trade and inter connectivity”.