HERITAGE Bank Plc said it will partner with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to provide financing for building critical maritime infrastructures and other aspects of transport sector projects once policies driving the projects are well structured.
The Managing Director/ Chief Executive of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo disclosed this while speaking during the panel discussion at the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) Africa regional conference held in Abuja, with the theme, “African Ports & Hinterland Connectivity.”
He also stated that banks are willing to provide the necessary financing and support but the operators must be clear on where they are headed.
“The government will need to develop policies that will manage infrastructure programmes and we as bankers will give support. We are sure we can support, and we are sure going to support,” he said.
He added that the banking industry must stake in financing but we must have an understanding on what the industry wants.
He said Heritage Bank decided to sponsor and attend the conference to understand the focus of the industry.
He also said the banks are willing to offer, and are working on the possibilities of developing long term loans with lower interest rates for operators in the industry.
He noted that, “though there is the cabbotage fund and shippers are taking advantage of it. We are still struggling with the kind of long term funding shippers need to attain the level of optimization they need and talk is in progress. We are engaging the relevant stakeholders to make sure we get loans at cheaper interest rates for them but that can’t happen overnight”.
“The commercial rates today are in the neighbourhood of 20 to 23 percent but the cabbotage is between 9 to 13 percent interest rate. But how many of them have been able to borrow from the cabbotage funds given the requirements?” he queried.
He however added that the fund is even for just ship building, thus other aspects of intermodal transport infrastructure to decongest the ports will require external financing.