By Innocent Orok
Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has acknowled that the maritime sector provides safe passage for about 80% of Africa’s trade, as all seaports in the country are being repositioned as efficient and reliable gateways to optimise Nigeria’s trade interconnectivity with other countries under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Bello-Koko said this in a goodwill message at the maiden edition of the Nigerian International Maritime Summit (NIMS) which held recently in Lagos.
Speaking through the Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Hon. Onari Brown, the NPA acting Managing Director disclosed that the Authority having keyed into the Federal Government’s agenda to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade, has prioritized the expansion and improvement of port infrastructure, including ICT and security systems, in order to significantly bring down transportation costs of Nigeria’s trade within the continent and globally.
He told his audience that “given the urgency with which the new vistas of opportunity of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement beckons, the Authority is eager for actionable ideas and synergistic partnerships that the summit promises to deliver.
He explained that, “the promotion of the African Union agenda of well-interconnected and integrated networks of transport infrastructure to boost opening of markets and increase intra-regional trade, will serve to complement our ongoing aggressive efforts at attaining seamless port hinterland connectivity through multi-modalism”.
The NPA helmsman commended the organizers of the summit for taking steps to promote Nigeria as a centre of maritime excellence in the region. He assured industry stakeholders and port users of the unwavering commitment of the Management of Nigerian Ports Authority under his watch to effectively address all the identified bottlenecks in port operations and harness the opportunities AfCFTA avails especially in the area of non-oil export trade.