The federal government, through the Nigerian Export-Import Bank has begun decongesting of the nation’s few freight corridors and port gateways that are currently under severe pressure with the unveiling of Navigational Charts of the lower River Niger. The aim is to ensure navigational safety of the lower river Niger channel to boost both hinterland and coastal trade.
Minister of finance, budget and national planning Zainab Ahmed said the opening up of the inland waterways will no doubt significantly complement and help to decongest other freight corridors and port gateways that are currently under severe pressure. “This will enable Nigeria to reap immense economic benefits of being a littoral state and be able to harness its huge inland waterway resources,” the minister.
Nigeria’s maritime industry constitutes a very critical sector of the Nigerian economy, which has remained largely untapped with insignificant annual contribution to the GDP at less than 1%.
The survey and charting, which was jointly undertaken by hydrographers of the Nigerian Navy & NIWA with financial support from NEXIM and Afreximbank was said at the event which took place at NAF Conference Centre in Abuja on March 16.
NEXIM had embarked on a project to facilitate the establishment of a regional shipping line, the Sealink Project, aimed at reducing transit travel time and logistics costs and enhance trade connectivity and competitiveness.
According to NEXIM Bank MD, Mr Abba Bello, the focus was to bridge maritime infrastructure gaps towards lowering logistics cost to foster trade with the promotion of the regional Sealink project.
Special Purpose Vehicle under a public-private-partnership framework.
In his goodwill message, the President of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah who was represented by the regional manager, Mr. Remigius Nwachukwu lauded the efforts of NEXIM, the Nigerian Navy and NIWA for supporting regional trade in Africa and reiterated Afreximbank’ s commitment to provide support to serious investors with bankable projects to take advantage of the emerging business opportunities in marine logistics sector.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed stated that the ministry had adopted the Sealink project as one of its ministerial mandates because of the need to support initiatives that will “promote and attract private sector investments in maritime logistics infrastructure”.
Ahmed who was represented by the director, home finance, Mr. Mohammed Ali efforts are being made to engender sustainable growth and diversification of the economy, as well as enhance the country’s potential to undertake export trade of bulk commodities like solid minerals and agricultural produce.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo in his remarks thanked all the critical stakeholders and pledged the commitment of the Nigerian Navy to provide all logistical and technical support needed to ensure that the Sealink project is completed. He emphasized the critical role played by the Nigerian Navy in developing the Charts, spearheaded by the Naval hydrographer, adding that this was the first time a project of that nature was being handled by an Indigenous Nigerian entity.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Jaji Sambo pledged his ministry’s commitment to the successful attainment of the overall objective of the project in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for the holistic and sustainable development of the maritime sector and the inland waterways.