By Izuchukwu Ozoemena
Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman has emphasized the need for maritime stakeholders in the African continent to come together and chart a new course for the collective development of African ports. For ports in the region to attain their potentials, she added, the deployment of multimodal means of transportation which ensures that cargoes are moved without delay and to the satisfaction of clients has become a compulsory factor.
Hadiza Bala Usman stated these in Lagos while unveiling programmes for the First Regional Conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) which takes place in Abuja, September 17 to 19. President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to declare the conference open. The theme of the conference which is aptly entitled African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity is in recognition of the importance of the ease of moving cargo from ports to the destination of use.
Among others, critical stakeholders expected to participate in the three- day conference are port administrations and maritime agencies including the Lagos – Abuja, Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Antwerp Port Authority, Guangzhou Port Authority (from China) and administrators from African ports such as Transnet National Port Authority of South Africa, Kenya Ports Authority, Douala Port Authority (Cameroon) and, of course, the Nigerian Ports Authority. Others are Cotonou Port Authority (Benin), Abidjan Port Authority (Cote d’Ivoire), Dakar Port Authority (Senegal), Tanger Med Port of Morocco and Port of Alexandria (Egypt). They are expected to share experiences and insights on how to improve port operations and attain better efficiency.
Experts from international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the African Development Bank AfDB) are expected to join them in sharing latest ideas, experiences and best practices that can enhance operations especially in African ports. For Nigeria, expected take-aways from the conference include providing her clear experiences from other climes on interconnectivity and intermodal strategies to decongest the ports access routes especially in Lagos. For African countries, it is expected that they would be afforded the opportunity to be best informed on practical ways to prioritize hinterland connections to improve cargo evacuation within their territories. This is one way to ensure efficiency in port operations.
“At the end of the conference,” the NPA MD who is also the vice president of the IAPH disclosed, “we are hopeful that we would be able to produce a document which can form the basis for policies that would guide our governments in the very important task of improving service delivery at African ports.”
Lead sponsors for this programme include Dangote Group, Starzs Marine, African Circle, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Integrated Logistics Services (Intels). Others are, Bonny Channel Management (BCM), Indorama, PTML, DISN, Depasa Group of Companies, Lekki Port, NEM Insurance and DUTUM.