The Nigerian government wants to provide critical infrastructure in the maritime sector to enhance transportation of goods from the ports to the hinterland.
President Muhammadu Buhari said this is with a view to boosting the country’s economic competitiveness as targeted by Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
He stated this in Abuja on Monday while declaring open the African regional conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbours.
“This administration that I am privileged to lead is committed to rebuilding infrastructure that supports the means of transportation form the ports to the hinterland. We understand that this interconnectivity will improve Nigeria’s economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” Mr Buhari said.
The president further said he had since directed relevant authorities to ensure that every port has a compliment of rail infrastructure, adding that roads across the country are also being given attention.
“I have directed that every port must have a compliment of rail infrastructure. Our projection is that by the end of 2021, we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South rail route. The same level of serious attention is being given to the improvement of road infrastructure. At least 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across the six geo-political zones of the country,” Mr Buhari stated.
The Nigerian leader said major inland waterways are also receiving attention.
“We have stimulated activities on our inland water ways, as major inland water channels are being dredged, for the ease of navigation through the Eastern and Northern parts of the country and that is the best way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the maritime industry,” he said.
Mr Buhari implored participants at the regional conference to see themselves as people opportuned to stand in positions of responsibility on behalf of the African continent.
He therefore urged them to at the end of their deliberations at the conference come out with resolutions that will benefit the entire continent because the maritime sector, where they are stakeholders, is central to the facilitation of trade and the total integration of the African economy.
On is part, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said the theme of the conference, “African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity,” was in line with the commitment of the Buhari administration’s commitment to optimising the comparative advantage Nigeria’s maritime endowments confer on other parts of the world.
He disclosed government’s plan of developing a multi-model system of transportation from all the ports in Nigeria.
There were goodwill messages from the International Maritime Organisation as well as other regional and global bodies in the maritime industry.
In her welcome address, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, said: “The theme for the Conference ‘African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity’ is of topical importance and would enable delegates to examine the African ports sector and their captive and competitive hinterlands, the connectivity facilitation infrastructure, expertise and hinterland accessibility compared to progress achieved in other parts of the world.”
The managing director said all African Ports, Port Operators and Corridor Management Organisations and hinterland countries, as well as IAPH Member Organisations were invited to attend the conference and take advantage of the learning and networking opportunities it will offer.
She said the conference, which is the first ever IAPH Africa Regional Conference, will synergise to build the capacity and competitiveness in hinterland connectivity in Africa.