By Godwin Oritse
THE Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has called for a total diversification of the economy through non-oil export at the backdrop of the reduction in crude oil shipment.
Speaking at a webinar themed ‘Non-oil exports: Disrupting Nigeria’s growth cycle’ last week, Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, said that 78 percent of the total 191milion tonnes of cargo that passed through the ports in 2019 was crude oil cargo, adding that the reduction in the shipment due to the global coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic will adversely affect accruable revenue to the Federal Government in 2020.
Bala Usman also said that crude oil shipments were tied to exportation adding that crude oil cargo contributed the highest revenue of the ports
She stated: “By the reduced crude oil price and shipment, revenue expected by the government from the ports will be reduced by 75 per cent. This underscores the importance of diversification of the economy through non-oil exports so that we can reverse this trend.
“There is the need to encourage local investors because we are a large country of consumers. We need to increase local production to make domestic investment a priority.”
She also said that the need to fast track export cargo cannot be over emphasized as it will enhance the Ease of Doing Business initiative of government and quicken the need to have express documentations before export cargo reaches the ports as against the practice where the export cargo get to the port before documentations commence which sometimes results in the export items getting spoilt.
She further disclosed that terminal operators have been directed and they have set up priority desk for export cargo, adding that the authority has commenced moves to decongest the ports by aggressively deploying rail link to Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Port.
Usman said that lack of multi-modalism was the reason why 75 per cent of cargoes pass through the roads.
On the issue of truck parks, she said that the Tin Can Island Truck Park has been concessioned just as NPA has commenced discussion with Lagos and Ogun State governments to establish truck parks so that e-call up system can be introduced, with the Orile Truck Park being earmarked for the purpose.
She further stated the movement of cargoes by water ways was not left out as NPA has encouraged and licensed operators for the use of barges to move cargo out of the ports just as a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, has been signed with APMT Capital to utilise the use of barges.
Bala Usman explained that the introduction of a single window platform should be made a priority as such platform will eliminate corruption and quicken the clearance of cargoes from the ports.
Speaking in similar vein, Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary and Chief Eexecutive Officer, Nigeria Investment Promotion Council, NIPC, said that attract foreign direct investment in 2020-2021 will fall by 30-40 per cent and urged for urgent need to increase production capacity.
Sadiku explained that in spite of Africa contributing 17 per cent of global population it was only able to attract three per cent of foreign direct investment, FDI.
In his submission, Ugo Obichukwu, Publisher of Nairametrics reiterated the need to do away with reliance on crude oil as a nation adding that currency depreciation will continue if we didn’t diversify. According to him, “a country relying on oil will not develop.”
Similarly, Segun Awolowo, Executive Secretary, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC said that Nigerian domestic investors should be encouraged adding that multinationals should diversify their production base and not concentrate in one region.
He disclosed that there has been an increased demand for Nigerian goods and produce adding that Nigeria has been able to meet these increase in export demand.
“Increased incentives should be extended to domestic investors via tax, removal of administrative and regulatory bottlenecks, quick delivery after care/investors care, improvement in business environment,” he added.