In a bid to address some of the shortcomings in transport infrastructure and policies and improve the various transport infrastructure modes, the National Action Committee on AfCFTA for Transportation has gone into a partnership with the Nigerian Shippers Council (NCS) to ensure the nation is ready by January 2021 when the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement takes off.
Disclosing this over the weekend when the National Action Committee on AfCFTA for Transportation led by its Co-Champion, Mrs Funmi Folorunsho, paid a visit to the headquarters of the NSC, the Committee informed that a larger meeting comprising of delegates from the NSC with the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki will soon be held to chart a way forward.
According to Mrs Funmi Folorunsho, “We are hoping that after this meeting, our committee together with delegates from the Shippers’ Council would meet the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki to go forward.
“We formally present the initial report of the workshop we had on AfCFTA with the hope that going forward, you would direct us on the next steps. We know that you will drive this much more than we had.”
Receiving the AfCFTA implementation committee team, the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, stressed that there are lots of issues to be fixed in the nations transport sector to place Nigeria in an advantageous position come January 2021.
Bello identified some of these crucial factors as road infrastructure, railway connectivity to inland dry ports and hinterlands, speedy cargo evacuation, automation, Single Window platform at ports, availability of fleet for ships and aircraft, among others.
He, however, expressed optimism that Nigeria would be ready for the AfCFTA take off in January 2021, adding that the port system would be fully automated in the first quarter of 2021.
“AfCFTA is coming up effectively in January 2021 and we have to inspect the nation’s infrastructure and policies. This agreement is good but it will only favour those who are ready and those who continue to improve their infrastructure. If I look at the state of our readiness as a nation, I know that we have a lot of work to do.
“We have a deficit in transport infrastructure. We have the issue of roads, rail and connectivity to hinterlands. Although we have a population of over 200 million, an enormous market and vast coastlines, these factors have to come together in a deliberate manner to facilitate trade under AfCFTA,” Bello said.
Bello also noted that the nation would soon record a boom in ship acquisition as the National Fleet Implementation Committee has made headway in addressing most of the factors limiting ship acquisition.
He called for a new port order where Customs examination would take place outside the ports to facilitate speedy cargo evacuation from ports, even as he commended the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for its innovative approaches in cargo clearance.
Bello also assured that the NSC would study and utilise the recommendations provided by the AfCFTA Implementation Committee, adding that the transportation sector wouldn’t be a drawback in the nation’s quest to maximise the gains of AfCFTA.
Recall that President Mohammadu Buhari had set up a National Action Committee on AfCFTA under the Ministry of Trade & Investment to look at how the nation can benefit fully from the AfCFTA agreement expected to commence on the African continent come January 2021.
Nigeria targets improvement in transport infrastructure modes ahead AfCFTA take-off