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France collaborate to develop inland dry port




The French Government has agreed to collaborate with the Federal Government to develop inland dry ports in the country.

Mr Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), disclosed this during a collaborative meeting between the duo and investors delegation on Thursday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the thrust of the meeting was the development of inland dry ports, rail transportation infrastructure, export and import promotion and development between both countries.

Bello explained that after due study,  five locations were chosen by the Federal Government for the construction of a dry port and they were, Funtua, Kano, Ibadan, Plateau and Isiala Ngwa in Abia.

According to him, the dry port at Funtua is already 68 per cent completed and with efforts by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)  it can  be ready for operations in October or November.

He noted that reasonable progress had also been made in the other various ports, adding that the critical issue was that the projects were concessioned  to the private sector.

“The Federal Government thinks that in order to bring shipping closer to the people there should be ports.

“The guidelines for the policy is that dry port will decongest the sea port,  it will make things easier for everybody, secondly we have to galvanise export.

“Nigeria cannot be import dependent country for a long time,  we need to export to earn all the foreign currency.  It is intended that the dry port will be centred for export.

“In which case we are going to bring standards. Pre-export inspectors so that once you are exporting, it is certified,  everything is sealed and taken by rail mostly to the ship that is waiting and off it goes.

“What it does is that you are spreading the economy and giving exporters access to the ports. We are calling for government to declare the dry port as centres for exports so everything will be there.

“There will also be free zones, so most of the taxes will be lessened. We want to make these ports very comprehensive, we have to add value, we must have the compliment of the cold storage as to really cure these post-harvest losses.

“The most important thing is that we need to enhance and open the ports for local and international investments,’’ Bello said.

On railway, the NSC boss, said rail capacity was key to the success of the dry ports, adding that to earn the confidence of investors, we should have scheduled railway services.

He noted that some countries had indicated interests to invest, therefore, it was important to get things right.

According to him, the idea is not just to have a port, but to have a modern/electronic port that is in accordance and compliance with the ISPS code and of international standard.

He thanked the Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, for accepting to ensure availability of land for investors to create additional values.

He,  however,  urged him to take a critical independent survey of all the ports and lay it before the Federal Government so that rail shouldn’t be a cause for delay of the port.

He also appealed that the ports shouldn’t be allowed to be congested like the Apapa ports, goods be cleared 24 hours,  no demurrage or rent seeking and the ports must relate to the economy and the community.

Representing the French government, its Regional Agriculture Counsellor, Dr Sonia Darracq, expressed readiness of its government to collaborate with Nigeria.

While reiterating the importance of the dry port, Darracq, said it would amongst other things,  boost the agricultural sector of the country, as it would curb post-harvest losses of food products.

“I am in contact with some French companies that will be interested in partnering in the development of the dry port be it for food or other things.

“And I brought in some documentation for companies that also cover the cold chain sector and they will  be very much willing to know better about your policy in terms of dry-port development in order to investigate some ways of cooperation.

“I am here to understand better,  what the government and  private sector plan in developing the dry port sector and all other infrastructure.

“I am mostly concerned with the transportation of our food but I’m also very keen to know the strategy of development of the highway,  the roads.

“I came here specifically at the request of the number one in France in the cold chain.  This is a group of French companies which deals in cold chain for more than 50 years.

“They have a vast experience,  they are private companies and are very much willing to start business discussions with you.

“I am a government person and the French government is very much willing to assist in the form of some financial tools we can activate for the beginning.

“We want to be part of the transformation of all or few environmentally friendly energy sources for all activities including the cold chain transportation and everything.

“To that we can  easily activate not only the French financial assistance but also the European Union.

“ I will write a  report that I will share with my ambassador but also with the EU representatives here because I think this is  for us,  a golden opportunity to work together and to be part of this development that is critical for the country,’’she added.

The Managing Director, NRC in his remark, reiterated the importance of rail in industrialisation and development.

Okhiria reiterated efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to link the country through rail, stating that work was on going to revitalise/construct the narrow and standard gauge lines in the country.

He said :“ the Federal Government has taken the bull by the horns to develop the infrastructure and the dry ports now have rail tracks to move products.

“If we succeed in linking the rails, we will not only reduce congestion but encourage people to use other ports and boost the economy in the long run.

“I pray the government continues to have the will to develop the sector as it is not a cheap project.’’ (NAN)

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Business & Economy

World Bank projects Nigeria’s Diaspora remittances to increase in 2022




World Bank has projected Nigeria’s Diaspora remittance inflow to increase to $29bn in 2022 because of higher food prices and the continued adoption of official bank channels.

The bank said, migrants from the country are likely to send more money home to help with the hike in the prices of staples.

A report titled, ‘Migration and Development Brief (May 2022): A War in a Pandemic: Implications of the Ukraine crisis and COVID-19 on the global governance of migration and remittance flows,’ the bank stated that remittance flows to low and middle-income countries are expected to increase by 4.2 per cent to $630bn in 2022.

It said: “With risks weighted to the downside, there are several factors that support a view for continued—though more moderate—7.1 per cent gain inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.

“Momentum for the use of official channels in Nigeria should sustain an uptrend in the year, within flows reaching $21bn.

“Though economic activity is likely to ease in the United States and Europe, fundamentals remain positive for continued gains in remittance flows to the remainder of Africa, as the influence of ‘altruistic’ motivations that were demonstrated in Africa and South Asia during the peak pandemic years will likely carry over to the period of sharp increases in staple food prices.”

The global bank further said remittance inflow to Sub-Saharan Africa was $49bn in 2021, with Nigerian contributing $19.2bn to the total inflow, adding that the use of informal channels to transfer money to the region caused a 28 per cent reduction in inflows in 2020.

“In 2022, remittance inflows are projected to grow by 7.1 per cent driven by continued shift to the use of official channels in Nigeria and higher food prices – migrants will likely send more money to home countries that are now suffering extraordinary increases in prices of staples,” the bank said.

The World Bank stated that the Naira-4-Dollar policy, which was an attempt to return remittance to formal channels, of the Central Bank of Nigeria helped boost inflows by 11.2 per cent in 2021, adding that the stabilisation of the naira against the dollar within a range of 410-415 per dollar over the last year also contributed to the pickup in recorded inflows.

It noted that the increased stability of the Naira and increased use of the e-Naira would help boost the nation’s chances of achieving $21bn in remittance for 2022.

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Business & Economy

Double trouble for Ahmed Idris: arrested by EFCC, suspended by Minister



Ahmed Idris - Account General of the Federation

The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has been directed to proceed on indefinite suspension over alleged laundering of N80 billion.

Idris, was suspended on Wednesday by Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

In a letter dated May 18, 2022, the minister said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.

Ahmed Idris, was on Monday arrested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). over alleged diversion and laundering of N80 billion.

Wilson Uwajaren, Head of Media and Public Information of the EFCC, stated that verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.

Uwujaren added that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja.

According to EFCC, Idris was arrested after he failed to honour invitations by the Commission to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.

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Business & Economy

NEPC, 13 trade promotion organisations shortlisted for WTOP award



NEPC Headquarters, Maitama - Abuja.

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has been nominated along side 13 other Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) for the 2022 World Trade Organisation (WTPO) Awards for Excellence in Trade Promotion.

A statement released on Monday by Ndubueze Okeke Head, Corporate Communications of the NEPC, it said Nigeria is poised to clinch the “Best Use of a Partnership”.

He said the NEPC has been shortlisted along with Apex Brazil, Jamaica Promotion Corporation, Qatar Development Bank-Tesder and Saudi Export Development Authority.

The WTPO Award which is scheduled to hold on 17th May, 2022 in Accra, Ghana is open to all national TPOs.

The statement also said, “NEPC acknowledged WTPO as it recognizes excellence in providing trade support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs to become competitive in international trade.

“In 2018, Nigeria, through NEPC won the award for the ‘Best initiative to Ensure that Trade is Inclusive and Sustainable”.

The NEPC won that category with its Zero to Export initiative which builds capacity of would-be exporters and SMEs on export procedures and documentation as well as provide practical training on product sourcing and market access.

The NEPC said that the initiative had trained 560 SMEs.

The International Trade Centre Executive Director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton said, “At a time when small firms have been hit by supply chain disruptions, climate change crises and other socio-economic challenges, it important to show inspiring models that connect small firms to Trade opportunities that are Inclusive and sustainable”.

The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak will represent Nigeria at the Award Ceremony.

The statement further said, Austria, Canada, Malaysia, Tanzania is competing in the “Best use of Information Technology”, while Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Netherlands and Zimbabwe will compete for the “Best initiative to ensure that trade is inclusive and sustainable category”.

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