President Bola Tinubu has tasked African leaders on full automation in order to remain competitive in the maritime sector.
Tinubu made the appeal at the 43rd Annual Council Meeting and 18th Roundtable of Managing Directors/Exhibition of the Port Management Association of West and Central African (PMAWCA) on Monday in Lagos.
The meeting hosted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had the theme: ‘The Role of Ports in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).’
The president said the region must embrace full automation to be competitive in the global maritime sector.
Tinubu was represented at the event by Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister, Marine and Blue Economy.
He noted that the region had a shared destiny with robusy human capital, natural resource endowments and largely connected by the same developmental challenges.
Tinubu said the countries were duty bound by posterity to unite and deploy their resources together and solve issues affecting socio-economic progress and development.
He pointed out that the ongoing discussions in Nigeria and other African countries on the importance of investing in infrastructure and equipment would support trade facilitation.
Tinubu added that meetings such as this would put the issues in proper perspectives and serve as an avenue for generation of ideas that would aid national governments to formulate effective policies.
“My administration is especially interested in the maritime industry; this is why we created the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in the first instance.
“Even though we have physical national boundaries that separate us, the waters are natural source of connectivity and they seem like a subtle providential message that we must work together for the good of all our countries.
“This is why there could be no better time than now to hold this conference,” he said.
He noted that the theme of the conference was a testament of the determination of the organisers to collectively seek sustainable solutions to the challenges affecting port operations in the continent.
“After the issues of adequate security and transparency, the one other important factor deciding the competitiveness of ports is the seamlessness and efficiency with which cargoes are evacuated from the ports.
“This without doubt is an area in which port operations in Africa needs a lot of intervention,” he said.
He also stressed the need for infusion of information technology into public management to aid transparency and ease business processes.
Tinubu noted that his administration had given the NPA the necessary backing to fast track the operarionalisation of the Port Community System.
“This is a precursor to the implementation of the National Single Window because we are persuaded that full automation is the only way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the global maritime industry,” he said.
Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director, NPA, said the need to translate marine comparative advantages into opportunities for the collective prosperity of respective countries had never been more pressing than now.
According to Bello-Koko, the demonstrated global leadership of ports in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shows that the sustainability of the world, especially Africa depends heavily on the sustainability of our ports.
“Thus, given the increasing realisation of the leverage that economic cooperation confers in the international arena, we will be doing great disservice to ourselves if we fail to maximise this unity through the cooperation of our ports.
“I am convinced this conference will equip us to safely midwife for the benefit of our respective national economies with domino effect on the economy of the sub-region if our ports cooperate.
“As an organisation that appreciates the catalytic role of PMAWCA in promoting ports’ cooperation, the NPA will continue to embrace partnerships and support policies and actions arising from the insightful policy-shaping meetings and technical sessions,” he said.
Also, Mr Martin Boguikouma, the President, PMAWCA, said the meeting was aimed at improving strategies for 2024, stressing that results that would imporve the various ports should come up from the meeting.
Boguikouma noted that PMAWCA was established in 1979 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as a platform for exchange of ideas on ways to manage the ports.
“We need to work deeper for the development of our ports and I promise not to waste efforts to achieving the association’s objectives,” he said.
Capt. Sunday Umoren, the Secretary-General, Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU), encouraged port authorities to work in synergy with state control officers in their zones.
Umoren represented by Mr Richard Owolabi noted that they would work with PMAWCA to grow the maritime industry to foster trade and investment.
Sen. George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), noted that AfCFTA houses brilliant promises to deepen investment, boost trade, provide jobs, reduce poverty and increase share prosperity in Africa.
Akume represented by his Senior Special Assistant (Technical), Prof. Babatunde Bolaji Bernard, added that the objectives of AfCFTA was in line with the present administration’s renewed hope agenda.
Comptroller Adewale Adeniyi, Controller General of Customs, pointed out that the platform would provide the opportunity to communicate across board.
“Trade is very central to development and prosperity which will lead to peace and security.
“Implementation of AfCFTA resonates with policy trust of President Bola Tinubu who has identified that port state is critical to his agenda to attract investment.
“All critical element that will make the meeting memorable is here,” he said. (NAN)
November 6, 2023 @ 18:23 GMT|