As Nigeria looks to explore non-oil sectors to boost the country’s economy, cargo exports have become part of the ways to achieve this objective as well as create gainful employment.
However, factors that have continued to affect the development of cargo exports in Nigeria include gaps in information and markets that would help bridge the supply and demand gap between the farmers, the cargo airports and the exporters.
Speaking during the 2nd edition of Aviation and Cargo Conference, CHINET held at Lagos Marriot Hotel Ikeja, Rabiu Yadudu, managing director/chief executive, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN), said Nigeria imports more than she exports through air cargo.
According to Yadudu, in 2017, about 168.7 tons of goods transited through our airports, and importation accounted for about 66 percent of this total, while export of goods accounted for the balance of 34 percent. And in the same year, about 39 tons of mails passed through our airports.
He said while total mails importation was 77 percent, the country exported only 23 percent of the total.
“Although, the data shows a 52 percent increase in the total volume of goods and mails that passed through our airports in 2021 compared to 2020 data, it is not encouraging news to say that we have not been able to reduce the deficits in our ability to export more through our airports.
“If only we could bridge the gap, then we would confidently say that we will be ranked at the top of busiest cargo handling airports in Africa and compete favourably in the global aviation index. This should be our next task. The AviaCargo guideline should be the clear way to go,” he said.
He said an aviation cargo guideline should chart a way by which Nigeria should steadily increase its exports data on goods and mails by a minimum of 25 percent and 10 percent respectively, year on year for the next five years starting in 2023 and using the 2021 data as benchmark.
“All we need is to rejig our facilities and the way we transact cargo businesses and we are good to go on top of the African chart and compete strongly in the global aviation cargo business and in the domestic market, we would be able to contain food scarcity, inflation and damages. By this, we would increase farmers and middlemen income,” Yadudu added.
Seyi Adewale CEO, Mainstream Cargo Limited in his paper titled: ‘The Ideal Cargo Airport of Our Aspiration’ stated that many cargo airport workers, staff and agents operating within this environment may not even know the types of hazards they are being exposed to ordinarily.
“How are hazardous materials stored, how effective are the personal protective equipment (PPEs) in use suitable against radiation from hi-tech equipment such as ETD, X-Ray Machines and hazardous chemicals. How effective is the ventilation and humidity levels within the respective cargo warehouses.
“Similarly, I’m yet to see airport (cargo) facilities built to adequately handle and keep Live Animals (AVI). A recent incident where shipped cows escaped from their handlers and were seen running all over the place at the MMIA Cargo Airport is fresh in memory. Many claims have been registered on exotic animals such as Dogs that perished in the course of either being imported or exported for the same reason of lack of proper facilities to handle and keep these exotic animals with special needs,” Adewale explained.
He hinted that majority of the handling companies now request shippers to sign an undertaking to indemnify the handling companies from any liability thereto, whereas others just outrightly reject handling these AVIs.
He stated that if other countries within Africa such as Egypt, South Africa and Ethiopia can handle this special category, AVI, I see no reason why local cargo handlers cannot do and follow same.
The Mainstream Cargo CEO stressed that it is pertinent to improve the general cleanliness and aesthetics of the cargo airport environment, adding that the quality of the tarmac, road, and dust reduction by ensuring sidewalks are all concrete or grown with tendered grasses that enables a more environment friendly space.
According to him, the amount of dirt and waste generated within the cargo airport environment is huge and therefore there should be strategies and policies guiding disposal of batteries, cartridges, nuclear or explosive materials, and other dangerous goods, which are critical for the safety and wellness of cargo workers, visitors, agents etc.
At the event, Ogun State Government received a Special Award for Concept and Design of state airport at the Aviation and Cargo conference organised by AVIACargo Journal in partnership with atqnews.com.
Receiving the award on behalf of Governor Dapo Abiodun, Ade Akinsanya, the State commissioner for works and infrastructure, said the Agro Cargo Airport under construction is a very viable project with socio economic impact that would be felt across the value chain of the agro-processing sub sector.
Akinsanya, while explaining that the project is not just an airport but a center for value-added services, said the agro-serving aspect is the most interesting aspect because it would be a conglomeration of agro processing companies that turn materials into finished goods.
He said: “The airport will also provide facilities for cargo processing, storage, warehouses and training centre, among others. This is an aerotropolis.
Earlier in his welcome address, the organiser of the event, Ikechi Uko eulogised Prince the Dapo Abiodun administration for the laudable achievements in Ogun State, especially in Infrastructure developments.