The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has recorded another significant milestone towards realising the Nigerian Export Import Bank‘s (NEXIM) dream of dedicated sea-going vessels in the region and Central African sub-regions.
The maiden meeting of the Board of Sealink Promotional Company Limited, the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the regional transportation system, consisting promoters of the sealink initiative, was held at the weekend at the Transimex Head Office in Douala Port, Cameroon, to firm up plans towards the immediate take off of the projects.
Members are drawn from the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FEWACCI), TRANSIMEX Cameroun, which is a logistics company created in 1998 with principal objective of realising unique and complete logistics services for national and international clients.
The project is a strategic initiative to facilitating the process that would remove the impediments to the movement of goods and persons within ECOWAS as well as promote economic integration.
Prior to the inauguration of the Board, the original Memorandum and Articles of Incorporation of the company were filed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja, on November 10 to set the stage for the formal registration of the company.
The Coordinating Consultant, Tidiane Traore, while presenting the status of the project to the newly constituted Board, said that the Sea Link Feasibility Study has already been presented to some key promoters of the project, including Gambian Port Authority (GPA), the Compagnie Beninoise de Navigation Maritime (COBENAM) of Benin, Nigerian Shippers Council (NNSC), the ECOWAS Commission, ECOWAS Parliament, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA), World Bank, African Development Bank (ADB), and the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC).
According to Mr Traore, funding proposals have already been developed and despatched to prospective donors, while discussions are ongoing with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded African Training and Management Services (ATMS)/African Management Services Company (AMSCO) for assistance towards the development of local management capacity.
The assistance will be in the area of providing qualified, experienced, professional management and related services to selected private companies and commercially-operated public enterprises, to strengthen management teams.
NEXIM Managing Director, Roberts Orya, said during his presentation of the Project to ECOWAS Parliament last week that the Sealink Project will be a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative to help realise the objectives of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services as well as Right of Residence and Establishment which was signed on May 29, 1979.
He said the primary objective of NEXIM Bank interest in facilitating the development of project was to deepen trade among West African States and reduce the presently high cost of shipping goods by sea along the ECOWAS and Central African coastlines as a result of the transhipment of goods between West African destinations through Europe or South Africa due to nonexistence of direct coastal sea links.