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Nigerian ports begin full automation to tap opportunities in AfCFTA

Nigerian ports begin full automation to tap opportunities in AfCFTA

The Federal Government said it has commenced the full automation and modernisation of all Nigerian ports to gain from the opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Speaking in Lagos on Monday at the opening of the 43rd council meeting of the Port Management Association of West & Central Africa (PMAWCA), President Bola Tinubu said that port automation was crucial to ensure the competitiveness of the ports in the global maritime industry.

Read also: NPA upgrades seafarers centre in boost for Nigeria ports

Represented by Adegboyega Oyetola, the minister of marine and blue economy, the president said his government has given the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) the full backing to develop the port community system, which will serve as a precursor to the implementation of the National Single Window, as essential tools that streamline port operations.

Tinubu said that full automation was the way forward if African ports were to remain competitive on the international stage, adding that seamless and efficient cargo handling was vital for port competitiveness in the African context.

Tinubu also urged African leaders on the need to prioritise the blue economy, which he said held the key to Africa’s prosperity.

According to him, Africa’s blue economy presented the continent with untapped opportunities for growth and development.

“We must acknowledge that the maritime sector is a central driver for the sustainable development of our nations. This is because, despite national boundaries, the waters serve as a natural source of connectivity,” he said.

On his part, Adegboyega Oyetola, minister of marine and blue economy, said Nigeria was currently pursuing a thorough port modernisation programme that involves comprehensive rehabilitation and reconstruction of dilapidated port infrastructure.

According to him, the government has also started strict implementation of a policy for new port development across the country, drawing from the success story of the Lekki Deep Seaport, which would be replicated in approved deep seaports in the country.

He said the success story of Lekki Deep Seaport would govern the operationalisation of the already approved Badagry, Ondo Deep Seaports, Snake Island and Burutu Ports.

Earlier in his address, Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of the NPA, said it was time to translate the sub-region’s marine comparative advantages into opportunities for the collective prosperity of African countries.

Bello-Koko said the sustainability of the world, especially Africa rested heavily on the sustainability of sub-region ports.

Read also: Examining Nigerian Ports Authority’s roles in a port concession era

“The opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area are substantial. We must work together to eliminate trade barriers and harness these opportunities for the collective prosperity of our respective national economies.

“There is a need to translate our marine comparative advantages into opportunities for the collective prosperity of our respective countries. The demonstration by global leadership of ports in the contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) shows that the sustainability of the world especially Africa rests heavily on the sustainability of our ports,” he said.