Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has provided a grant of $350,000 to Nigeria for the development of Inland Waterways along the Lower River Niger.
The bank said in a statement, yesterday, that the fund was provided for the project in a deal with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Navy.
The project is expected to facilitate the movement of goods using navigable waterways in Nigeria to increase intra-African trade.
A major milestone in the quest to unlock the huge potentials in transportation on Nigeria’s inland waterways had been recorded on March 16, 2023, with the unveiling of the Navigational Charts of the Lower River Niger by the Minister for Transportation, Mr. Mu’azu Sambo.
The Charting project was made possible by the grant from Afreximbank in recognition of the importance of inland waterways transportation and by extension, coastal waterways transportation, to its mandate of promoting Intra-African trade.
Mr. Sambo, hailed the support from Afreximbank through the grant and reiterated the importance of water transportation as the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation with significant economic benefits, citing the example of the United States of America where 60% of agricultural produce are moved through inland waterways.
He commended the efforts of all the parties involved in the activity and made commitment to progressing the subsequent activities involved to make the movement of goods on the lower River Niger from the hinterlands to the coastal lands possible.
Afreximbank’s Manager Trade Finance, Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Remigius Nwachukwu, commended the leadership and vision of Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Afreximbank towards the realization of this project which falls clearly within the ambit of the mandate of Afreximbank in promoting, facilitating and financing intra- and extra-African trade.
Afreximbank noted that existing African infrastructure was designed to carry African commodities to the global markets and not to facilitate intra-African trade.
In this context, the bank decided to support the development of the maritime sector including inland waterways to ensure efficient and cost-effective routes to facilitate intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The launch of the navigational charts followed the Maritime Survey and Charting Project executed by the Sealink Consortium in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Neximbank which was financed through the grant from Afreximbank.
The charts provide information on navigable and restricted areas of the river channel as well as serve as a springboard to attaining a fully developed navigable channel.
The Charting covered a distance of 456 km from Jamata, Lokoja to Burutu and have been approved by the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts having met International Hydrographic Organization’s standards.
Although some more work like dredging and removal of identified wrecks are still expected to be done on the channel, navigational activities can commence with the use of the Charts which Mariners can obtain from the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts either in hard copy or electronic form.
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