Strategic plans to make Nigeria African maritime hub are been put in place by top members of the nation’s maritime

Following these plans,  the senior management in the nation’s maritime sector, led by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (MIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (‘NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr Hassan Bello, are  reportedly working tirelessly to improve the maritime logistics network.

A Senior official at the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF) who craved anonymity disclosed this in a chart with journalists in Lagos recently hinted that, “to this effect, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, has identified some factors that will lead to the emergence of Nigerian seaports as the highest-performing logistics hub in West and Central Africa.

According to our source, “when this is achieved, the ports will become home to Africa’s largest trans-shipment container port, linked to other ports across the globe.

Citing the success so far recorded by the Port of Singapore, the FMoF official said, it shows that, with a forward-thinking vision and much determination by those directing the affairs of the maritime trade, “a developing country like Nigeria with few resources can become a leading logistics hub.

“Singapore’s achievements did not happen by chance, some people developed the initiatives. The result derived from a combination of forward-looking public policy and extensive private sector engagement. The experience has provided the necessary lessons for the Nigerian maritime industry,” the official said.

The senior official also noted that three  key factors that will lead to success based on the planned initiatives include the size of the Nigerian local market which is expansive.

“As Peterside is working closely with other maritime administrations in Africa and beyond, the port must also work closely with other ports and shipping lines to build one of the best maritime transport networks.

“The NPA and Shippers Council must quickly develop an extensive network of Free Trade Zone Agreements already signed by the Federal Government and initiate new ones with many trading partners to promote our access to major markets.

“The government must encourage companies across the logistics chain to operate within the country so that they can get frequent and reliable connections to reach global markets within the shortest time possible,” the source further pointed out.

Investigation revealed that, high-frequency connections will allow goods to reach other African countries faster through the Nigerian port than they would, through direct shipments and that is one area the FMoF official emphasized that the country must tap into.

“If you look at the current efforts of NIMASA, you will realise that it is in line with the initial efforts of the builders of the ports of Dubai and Singapore.

“Over time, Singapore and Dubai’s logistics sector have succeeded in building enviable world-class infrastructure and processes that need to be emulated by Nigeria and other developing countries.

“That is why the current management of NIMASA  like those who led the ports of Singapore and  Dubai to a world-class level, is now thinking ahead, and coming up with several initiatives to build our ports for the future and ensure that they can compete favourably in every part of the logistics chain.

“We need a policy that will make it possible for our ports to be able to process several millions of standard shipping containers, making it the biggest integrated facility in the West and Central Africa,” the official said.

Also commenting on the issue, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, the former President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), says NIMASA needs to explore driverless automated guided vehicles, leveraging smart sensors to detect shipping anomalies such as piracy, and data analytics to predict danger and traffic congestion spots.

Shittu noted that  Nigeria has grown to have Logistics Park at the sea ports and the Inland Dry Ports for time-sensitive cargo, the cold-chain centers for perishables, and regional express facilities to accommodate burgeoning e-commerce activity.

“We are happy that NIMASA is currently providing its staff necessary and regular training to ensure they can keep up with the new technologies and have the right skills to examine and detect different cargo types that are coming to our ports.

“To facilitate trade, the Federal Government is planning to launch the first National Single Window in the next few months, which will digitise and streamline trade permit approval processes. With many government agencies planning to key into the platform, this will require the Federal Government to change its mindset from controlling trade to trade facilitation.

“By the time the National Single Window comes into operation, cargo clearance would be done and approved electronically within minutes, using one e-document. According to the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, an enhanced National Single Window is currently in the pipeline, and it will assist integrating as many business-to-business transactions as possible into one single digital platform.

“Nigeria,  Shittu, added ” needs the national single window to promote private sector competition and encourage industry players to be commercially nimble, and helped make the nation’s logistics sector more attractive and efficient,”