The Nigerian Ports Authority on Thursday expressed its readiness to strengthen relations with the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire in the areas of port and shipping operations.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, acting managing director of NPA, stated this in a statement signed by Mr Olaseni Alakija, NPA’s general manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, in Lagos.
Bello-Koko made the statement when he received a delegation from the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, who paid him a courtesy visit at the NPA corporate headquarters in Marina, Lagos.
He said the relations would focus more on strengthening the capacities of both countries to participate competitively in global and regional trade. “The Nigerian government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has introduced far-reaching reforms to facilitate cross-border trade, particularly nurturing a multimodal port system to reduce the cost of shipments in and out of the country.
“The Buhari-administration has also invested heavily in major public infrastructure upgrades, including construction of modern rail lines and deep seaports, to boost the international competitiveness of the country’s trade.
“This will also position Nigeria as a gateway to the African economy,” he said.
Bello-Koko said one of the Greenfield Ports – the Lekki Deep Seaport, capable of handling ultra large cargo vessels, would commence business by the second quarter of 2022.
He also highlighted efforts by the Authority to give priority to non-oil export trade.
According to him, export processing terminals are now being established to take advantage of opportunities under African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA).
He urged the Ivorian government and business sector to increase their share of trade with Nigeria.
The managing director assured the delegation that NPA would address non-tariff barriers and restrictions to trade between the two countries.
He added that there was room for information sharing, just as both countries needed to cooperate more in the areas of joint training of staff and technology transfer.
The NPA boss solicited the support of Republic of Cote d’Ivoire towards Nigeria’s candidate emerging as the next Secretary-General of the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA).
He said Nigeria was a founding member and a major financial contributor of MOWCA. In his address, the Ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire to Nigeria, H.E. Traore Kalilou, described the bilateral relations between the countries as ‘strategic’.
Kalilou said he looked forward to a review of existing agreements before the end of the year.
He commended the NPA management for its value added interventions, which had raised the performance of the country’s supply chain.