The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Emmanuel Jime has urged African countries in West, Central Africa sub-region to fast-track the dismantling of various tariff and non-tariff barriers hindering intra-Africa trade.
Jime, in his welcome address on Monday in Lagos at the ongoing 9th edition of African Shippers’ Day organized by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in collaboration with the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC)
noted that dismantling of various tariff and non-tariff barriers would harness the potentialities inherent in African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Jime pointed out that African leaders must embrace tariff liberalisation for intra African trade to thrive.
According to him, trading within African countries is presently at a paltry 11 per cent, while the continent’s contribution to global trade is at three per cent.
He, however, advised that re-orientation and re-organisation of intra-Africa trade should start from West and Central Africa sub-region.
He noted that should the region get it right, it would be easier for other sub-region in the African continent to trade among themselves.
“I believe that AfCFTA is a very important tool to boost the African economy by increasing intra-African trade.
“When adequate measures are put in place to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers that hamper trading between countries in the continent, then we will be on our way to achieving greater economic development for the continent.
“We all know that it is not an easy task, because a lot of things have been left undone in the past, but we can start now with great commitment and determination, we can achieve the Africa we all desire,” Jime said.
The shippers council’s boss, however, stated that if potentials inherent in intra-African trade were effectively harnessed, the African economy would expand by 52.3 per cent.
“The United Nations Commission for Africa estimated that AFCFTA will expand the size of Africa’s economy to US$29 trillion by 2050 and increase intra-African trade to 52.3 per cent from the current 11 per cent.
“Share of Africa’s trade to global trade is expected to double from current three per cent to six per cent with the implementation of the agreement.
“The re-orientation and re-organisation of intra-African trade should start from our subregion, when we get it right in West and Central Africa, it will be much easier to connect and freely trade with other regions of the continent,” he said
Jime noted that African countries needed to create smooth integration of their transport infrastructures and trade policies as well as the required awareness among the economic operators in the sub-region.
“There is need to sensitise our various governments to fast-track the dismantling of various tariff and non-tariff barriers that are hindering international trade.
“ We should always look at the holistic impact which tariff liberalisation will have on our economy, rather than just considering the immediate shortfall,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control for West and Central African Region, Capt. Sunday Umoren reiterated the need to have African fleet that will convey goods to be traded within the region.
Umoren said, “AfCFTA came at the right time and we have this platform binding us together but we need to act fast and snatch the moment. Nothing stops this region from having a strong ship owing capacity, thus eliminating the burden and impact of high freight rate from foreign ships.”
“Abuja MoU would play its role as part of due diligence in supporting nations in engaging the carrier with respect to effective port state regulations in ensuring the safe carriage and delivery of goods with minimal issues,” he said.
In his submission. Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), urged the forum to come up with roadmap that would place Africa ahead of others in the international market.
Jamoh noted that collaboration between shipping, port and logistics would go a long way in ensuring efficiency and sustainability in the industry.
On his part, Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said that automation remained vital tool for port efficiency.
Bello-Koko said that was why the NPA was working with the International Maritime Organisation to deploy Port Community System in Nigerian Ports to bring all stakeholders under one platform for ease of doing business.