By Godwin Oritshe
According to the report, the Nigerian maritime industry continues to receive support from stakeholders in repositioning it for efficiency and global best practices a development that has led to an encouraging move in the Liner shipping connectivity index.
In the report, Liner shipping connectivity index (maximum value in 2004 = 100) in Nigeria was reported at 18.93 in 2018, according to the UNCTAD collection of maritime transport indicators representing a marked increase in Liner Shipping Connectivity from the Port Liberalisation Reforms of the 2005 to 2015.
For instance, over the last two years, the present administration has focused on repositioning the ports through the National Action Plans on cross border trading coordinated by Presidential Ease of Doing Business Council (PEBEC) and the series of Presidential Executive Orders targeted at ports efficiency.
“This has therefore resulted in improvements in some of the maritime industry indicators such as the Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (which captures how well countries are connected to global shipping networks).
“While roads serve as the primary conduit within the country, most of Nigeria’s merchandise trade (bulk, commodities or containers) occur via the sea.
“ The vast majority of the containers arrive at either Apapa Port, Tin Can Island Port or Onne Port, with the three ports accounting for about 90% of market share in 2017 according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) port statistics report 2012-2017.
“Port usage nevertheless has seen a decline in recent years according to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), which owns the eight port complexes across the country.
“ According to data sourced from the website of the Nigerian Ports Authority, while (cargo throughput excluding crude oil) rose to its highest point in 2014 with 84.9m tonnes, there has been a decline in preceding years with provisional data for 2018 standing at 35.9m tones (January to September).
“External factors remain the key reason for the decline experienced in Nigeria’s port usage.
“The volatile nature of international crude oil prices, led to a fall in the value of naira against other international currieries especially the dollar and, has also reduced domestic demand for imports. Likewise, imports ban on certain consumer goods- which was part of the government’s effort to encourage domestic production and reduce the country’s trade deficit- has also had impact.
“These policies, including the ban on import of certain products, were intended to increase value addition and domestic production, and this is supported by the fact that ships calling into Nigerian ports typically leave empty, as was the case for 1.6m tones of outward containerised cargo against 5.1m tones inward containerised cargo in 2018, according to the NPA.