By Uche Usim
THE Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) is seeking cheaper and competitive transport mode for West and Central African shippers to boost intra-African commerce.
To this end, the bank has requested for the designation of the Kirikiri Terminal in Lagos as the hub and regional port for its planned Sealink project.
The Technical Adviser to the Managing Director of NEXIM, Mr. Hope Yongo, who disclosed this at a recent maritime summit in Abuja, said there should be provision of dedicated regional maritime services to promote connectivity and trade frequency.
Yongo said the status of the terminal would be upgraded for Container Weight Verification in line with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.
“There should be facilitation of formal and recorded trade prospects and improvement of trade within the sub-region, broadening trade prospects and improving market access for regional goods and services,’’ Yongo said. The NEXIM chief canvassed cargo support from all member countries and encouraged both private and maritime organisations to support and invest in the regional project. He said that Messrs Marine Services and Supply Company Ltd. would deploy three ships for the pilot scheme of the Regional Sealink project.
“This is upon confirmation of Notice of Readiness (NOR) from Sealink Promotion Company Ltd.,’’ the NEXIM chief said.
According to him, the Regional Sealink Consortium is proposing ways of bridging infrastructure gap to facilitate trade. He described the project as an “integrated maritime logistics services; warehousing facilities with container handling and weighing; deepening coastal maritime activities and inland waterways.”
Yongo said the Sealink project was born out of highest comparative international transport costs and excessive transit time, making intra-regional trade non-competitive. He added that West and Central African transport and logistics costs were one of the highest in the world. “There is absence of dedicated safe and modern fleet to encourage and facilitate Atlantic short-sea trade along the West and Central African sub-region.
“There is inadequate infrastructure among member states and non-tariff measures are barriers to increased intra-regional trade, ’’ Yongo said.
He noted that ECOWAS trade in the past one decade grew from 4.7 million tonnes to 13.2 million tonnes without comparative increase in transport infrastructure.