In a bid to enhance the competitiveness of the African maritime sector, President Bola Tinubu has emphasised the need for full automation. He made this call during the 43rd Annual Council Meeting and 18th Roundtable of Managing Directors/Exhibition of the Port Management Association of West and Central African (PMAWCA) in Lagos on Monday.
The gathering, hosted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), focused on “The Role of Ports in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).” President Tinubu’s representation at the event by Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, highlighted the importance of adopting automation to remain competitive in the global maritime sector.
Tinubu stressed the interconnected destiny of African nations, underscoring the shared human capital and natural resources that unite the region. He urged these countries to pool their resources and address the socio-economic challenges that affect their collective progress and development.
Furthermore, the President noted the ongoing discussions regarding infrastructure and equipment investment in Nigeria and other African countries to facilitate trade. He emphasised the role of gatherings like this in shaping perspectives and generating ideas to aid national governments in forming effective policies.
Tinubu stated, “My administration is especially interested in the maritime industry; this is why we created the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in the first instance. Even though we have physical national boundaries that separate us, the waters are a natural source of connectivity and seem like a subtle providential message that we must work together for the good of all our countries.”
The President acknowledged the importance of a seamless and efficient cargo evacuation process for the competitiveness of ports in Africa. He pointed out that this area required substantial intervention to improve port operations on the continent.
Tinubu also emphasised the infusion of information technology into public management to enhance transparency and streamline business processes. He highlighted his administration’s support for the operationalization of the Port Community System as a precursor to the implementation of the National Single Window, viewing full automation as vital for maintaining competitiveness in the global maritime industry.
Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of NPA, emphasised the need to translate the comparative advantages of marine resources into opportunities for the collective prosperity of the participating countries. He underscored the critical role of ports in achieving sustainability, not just for individual nations but for the African continent as a whole.
Mr. Martin Boguikouma, the President of PMAWCA, focused on the importance of improving strategies for 2024 and expressed confidence that the meeting would yield results to enhance various ports. He reaffirmed PMAWCA’s commitment to fostering cooperation among ports and the development of the maritime industry.
Captain Sunday Umoren, representing the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control for West and Central African Region (Abuja MoU), encouraged port authorities to collaborate with state control officers in their zones. This cooperation is aimed at boosting the maritime industry and promoting trade and investment.
Sen. George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), highlighted the promising prospects of AfCFTA for investment, trade, job creation, poverty reduction, and shared prosperity in Africa. He emphasised that AfCFTA’s objectives align with the current administration’s agenda.
Comptroller Adewale Adeniyi, Controller General of Customs, emphasised the importance of communication and trade in the context of development, prosperity, peace, and security. He noted that President Tinubu’s agenda to attract investment hinges on the critical role of port states.