• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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How Nigerian ports will benefit from NPA’s new pact with Port of Antwerp

hadiza bala

Last week, the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) signed a 5-year partnership agreement with the management of the Port of Antwerp International (PAI), Belgium to tap from the existing technical know-how of one of the world’s leading ports in order to enhance efficiency of operations in Nigerian seaports.

Under the agreement, which is expected to last for five years with effect from the 27th day of November 2019, the Port of Antwerp will play an advisory role with regards to enabling further development of Nigerian ports.

Both port authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which is expected to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The MoU, which covers areas like infrastructure, stimulation of trade growth as well as concretising the enabling environment for the tenets of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to thrive among the two Ports, is also expected to broaden technical skills and practical knowledge needed in managing operations in the Nigerian ports.

According to the team from Port of Antwerp, they see a greater future in the NPA as it makes progress in its concessioned regime, thus, the MoU.

At the MoU signing ceremony in Lagos last Wednesday, Hadiza Bala-Usman, managing director of the NPA said the new agreement was geared towards building a bilateral relationship that would be mutually beneficial to both countries.

Usman, who was represented by Sakonte Davies, executive director, Marine and Operations of the NPA, said the partnership was in line with the vision of the management of the NPA of making Nigerian ports, a leader in Africa, owing to the fact that Belgium port, is the second leading port in Europe and 12th in the world.

She said the MoU would give the Authority the opportunity to tap from the wealth of experience that PAI has exhibited in Europe, expressing optimism that the partnership deal will grow the mutual aspirations of the two countries.

“Port of Antwerp and Nigerian ports share few similarities especially in the area of having industrial locations within the ports. We believed that we can leverage these experiences to position our ports for positive use and to manage logistics chain addition to the port,” she said.

Usman, who stated that the NPA also hopes that this relationship can become a new model in future relationships between ports, said both port authorities are expected to partner in branding and marketing.

“This would help to promote each other’s interest and utilise advantages both the NPA and PAI have,” she said.

Earlier, Daniel Dargent, Belgium Ambassador to Nigeria, who said that the visit to the NPA was part of the third trade missions of Belgium potential investors to Nigeria this year, also stated that the new agreement provides both countries with an opportunity to expand its trade volume.

According to Dargent, the trade volume between Nigeria and Belgium presently stands between 2.5 to 3 million Euros per year, and there is hope that the volume of trade exchange between both countries would increase as a result of this new partnership.

“We see a lot of potential in the port of Lagos due to Nigeria’s growing economy. The freight transport with Europe has increased substantially. By means of this collaboration, we can use our know-how to advise the port of Lagos in its further development,” said Kristof Waterschoot, chief executive officer of PAI.

He said the agreement underlines the ambition of PAI to consolidate and further develop its already strong position in West Africa.

“With an annual volume of 16 million tons, West Africa takes a large share in the traffic of Port of Antwerp. It is, therefore, our ambition to further strengthen our position in West Africa,” said Annick De Rider, president Port of Antwerp,

Rider, however, said that management of the Port of Antwerp aims to pass their know-how and experience to the NPA by virtue of the MoU.

“We hope that this mission will create new fruitful contacts, new connections and new business opportunities in order to ensure future growth for years to come. We are engaging ourselves to create a sustainable future for African Ports,” Rider added.

Emmanuel Olajide Adesoye, chairman, Board of Directors of the NPA stated that the industry expectation is that the two organisations would leverage on each other’s expertise for growth in trade, which would result in economic development for the two nations.

Port of Antwerp, which is located in Belgium, has a significant impact on European trade given the fact that the European Union has one single market. The Port is not only serving Belgium but also serving Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and even, Italy.

BusinessDay understands Port of Antwerp has Belgium as home but serves customers in the whole of North-West European region. It is known in Africa as the maritime centre of Europe because of its numerous supply chain connections.

Also, out of all ports in North-West Europe, Antwerp has the highest number of direct services to West Africa, resulting in a market share of nearly 50 percent and freight of 15 million tons,  which Nigeria has the highest volume of 6 million tons annually.