Speaking in Abuja at the opening of a 2-day Sub-Regional Workshop on Transport Costs and Connectivity of West and Central African countries ,
Bello explained that inability of African countries to own fleets of their own is key reason for their exclusion from the shipping business,saying the trend had to stop.
Other reasons for the sidelining of Nigeria and other Sub-regional countries by exporting or importing he said include poor connectivity by road or through sea ports.
“Most countries in the sub-region including Nigeria,do not own fleets .We are at the mercy of foreign shipping companies .To improve connectivity and lower the cost of transport ,we need to look very seriously at the areas of ship building and vessels ownership in order to increase the number of vessels plying our waters”, Bello said.
He further stressed that poor connectivity among African countries and high freight charges levied on African countries is another reason foreign countries dominate the international shipping business, adding that benefits of of African countries connecting effectively include,wide range of choices for shippers ,lower transport costs, increased income, and promoting trade.
“We pay dearly for poor connectivity by the fact that while in developed countries freight as a percentage of value of imports is only about 3%,in developing economies, it is about 10%,while in Africa,the figure is estimated at a mind boggling value of between 20% to 35%,especially for landlocked countries”, he said.
Minister of Transportation,Rotimi Ameachi in his remark regretted that Nigeria and other African countries’ are sidelined from the global shipping market,saying it was high time the trend was reversed to benefit from the profitable trade.
He noted that the development of the maritime sector is key to economic growth ,hence the relevance the sub-regional workshop to re-position African countries in the shipping and global transportation sub-sector.
The minister who was represented by the Minister of State ,Aviation, Hadi Sirika, called on stakeholders in the country and neighbouring sub-regional countries to come to together under a common platform to address the situation. He urged them also to ensure access to shipping services and insurance plans,in addition to providing effective railway transport, inland waterways, and affordable port services.
Acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Import Bank(NEXIM Bank),Bashir Wali ,in his remark, stressed the need to increase participation in export and import,saying Nigeria has huge potentials to capture the global market, particularly with the determination of government to diversify the economy through harnessing of non oil sectors of business ,such as manufacturing ,agriculture among others.