By Yinka Kolawole
Sealink, a shipping line in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) floated by a consortium of West Africa’s maritime and financial institutions, is set to commence operations in the first quarter of 2023.
Head, Strategy and Communication, Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr Tayo Omioji, disclosed this at the just concluded Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) 2022 Annual Conference with the theme, “Boosting Domestic Capacity for Sustainable Export Earnings”, in Lagos.
The Sealink Promotional Company Ltd (SPCL) is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement established for the purpose of promoting the development of a regional sea link company that would be private sector driven.
Omidiji said the Sealink project was conceived out of the need for Nigeria to have regional shipping, noting that the country currently engages the service of foreign vessels to move goods outside the country, which is expensive and having negative impacts on its foreign exchange earnings.
According to him, reliance on foreign vessels increases cost and travel time as goods are first moved from Nigeria to the point of origin of the vessels and then to the final destination.
“If we have our own shipping line, we can move our goods from other countries and bring them directly to Nigeria before moving to other countries,” he explained.
Giving more details on shipping in the region, Omidiji said, “In addition to having a shipping project that allows moving our goods on international water, we also felt that we should also find scope in inland waterways. We need to do more in the infrastructure to move the goods from the cities to export destinations. We need to also develop our inland waterways. We can use barges to carry goods in the absence of port materials. That was why we were finding a scope in inland waterways,” he stated.