- How Africa could regain control of freight earnings – Shall-Holma
The Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank has revealed that Nigeria loses over $5billion yearly as freight payment for shipping services without alternatives to domesticate such funds in the nation.
Mr. Hope Yongo, Technical Adviser to the Managing Director/CEO of NEXIM Bank, revealed this while speaking at the ongoing 9th African Shippers’ Day in Lagos yesterday.
Yongo, however, expressed optimism that with investments in fleet being championed by the Sealink Consortium, the nation and other countries in Africa, will be able to keep the colossal shipping funds in the continent.
According to him, Nigeria could also explore export of bulk commodities worth $600million to $1.2billion annually with the provision of adequate transport infrastructure.
“Nigeria is endowed with solid minerals, about 38 valuable solid minerals but no one reckons with the nation in this regard because of the numerous challenges with infrastructure in moving these commodities. Coal, iron ore, led and zinc, among others aren’t being explored optimally for export because of infrastructure challenges. One of the things that NEXIM Bank does is to ensure that we harness the inland waterways transport system to evacuate these commodities,” he said.
Mr. Yongo also noted that some organizations have come to NEXIM Bank to explore avenues to enhance export of solid minerals like the Ajaokuta Steel Company, while the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has also been partnering with NEXIM Bank for crucial investments in viable inland waterways.
Worried by the foreign dominance of freight earnings from shipping services in Africa, the Chairperson, Sealink Consortium, Mrs. Dabney Shall-Holma revealed how African nations could regain economic control.
Shall-Holma revealed this while delivering a paper titled, “Coastal Shipping: A Sine qua non for Integration of Trade in Africa” at the ongoing 9th African Shippers’ Day, in Lagos.
Explaining that ownership of cargoes means Nigeria and other nations within the continent could dictate shipping conditions for their cargoes, she described AfCFTA as a opportunity to spark vessel ownership in the region.
Her words: “Under the Sealink Project, we would be vessels with carrying capacity of 3,000 tonnes which is equivalent to 102 trucks. We would boost the port business and other ancillary shipping services among nations in the continent. The big shipping lines have like an end-to-end service delivery because some of them also own port terminals. The terminals are waiting to service their ships and even if the transit time is much longer, it doesn’t affect their profit margins and their trade.”
“So, the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC) must change the narrative. African nations pull resources together and forget about any colonial affiliations. Just do the right thing for Africa and the citizens. We had charter to bring shipping companies that were trading in West and Central Africa and also ensure that no shipping line carries cargoes in the region unless it meets the conditions by the cargo owners.”
Shall-Holma bemoaned the low level of trade among African nations, stating that only one out of ten exports from countries in the region ends up in Africa while the stats for West Africa is worse with less than one-tenth export trade within the sub-region.
Europe and Asia led the stats with intra-regional export trade with about 4 out of 10 exports remaining in the continent, according to the statistics she shared.
On his part, the Chairman, Sea Transport Limited, Mr. Aminu Umar who also moderated the panel discussion, posited that there will be more opportunities for coastal trade to be utilized under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) with the take-off of Dangote Refinery.
“Wet cargo is also very important in Africa with considerations to AfCFTA. We are also on the verge of something very significant with the impending take-off of Dangote Refinery. This means there will be a lot of petroleum products movement within Africa, especially for nations on the Atlantic Coast. We should explore this because most nations in the region imports gasoline and other petroleum products from Europe and other parts of the world,” he said.