The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is set to collaborate with the Port of Antwerp International, Belgium to achieve its vision of being the leading port in Africa.
The Chairman, Board of Directors of NPA, Mr Emmanuel Adesoye, made this known on Thursday in Lagos during a two-day seminar by Port of Antwerp, in collaboration with NPA.
The seminar had as its theme “In Tune with the World”.
According to him, NPA will seek collaboration to enhance its capacity to reaching the desired goal.
“The Nigerian Ports Authority will also ensure that the collaboration is sustained, particularly in the area of strengthening the exchange and development of best practices in port operations, customs, training, safety and security.
“The commercial goals of both parties envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), intend to promote the development and improvement of global waterborne transport infrastructure to enhance the economic, environmental and social benefits of the two countries.
“The highpoint of the third trade mission was the signing of the MoU between the Nigerian Ports Authority and Ports of Antwerp International on Nov. 27, as the vehicle for collaboration,” Adesoye said.
Also speaking, the Ambassador to Belgium in Nigeria, Mr Daniel Dargent, said that the Port of Antwerp (PoA) was a key player in his home country, adding that it was the second largest port in Europe and 12th largest in the world.
“The PoA has a longstanding relationship with Africa and is increasing its presence in the continent. The mission of this week and the seminar of today are perfect examples of this new developments.
“It is a truism to mention that Nigeria has to face important challenges in security, infrastructure and energy supply. Oil industry is also experiencing difficult times, as the world market prices have drastically dropped in the last years, even though a recovery is in view.
“The private sector in Nigeria is and will be key actors in terms of development. Lagos State especially, is known to be the sixth economy in Africa, with the Lekki Free Trade Zone,” Dargent said.
He said that Belgian companies were ready to contribute to the development, adding that their representatives, who came from Belgium, were looking for new contacts and that trade partners were ready to accompany the development.
In her remarks, the President, Port of Antwerp, Mrs Annick De Ridder, said that one third of the trade volume between West Africa and Europe come through the Port of Antwerp.
“We handle 17 million tonnes of cargo through Antwerp yearly to the West African region, while six million of the volume is received by Nigeria.
“The fact that we are here shows that we strongly believe in the potentials of West Africa as well as Lagos and Nigeria.
“We think we can strengthen the ties between the two regions and it is also a proof that all our major shipping lines that are active in Antwerp, like Grilmadi Mask and others, have shipping service into West Africa.
“We’re the most important petrochemical cluster in the world; we are the second biggest port in Europe; both maritime logistics and industrial hubs of our port are very strong. So we are very complete as a port,” De Ridder said.
She added that that PoA had an international empire, with a training centre that could help African shipping environment to acquire more knowledge in shipping operations.
In her address, the Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, said that the trade mission had provided a platform for Antwerp and NPA to enhance collaboration for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
“The mandate of the Nigerian government, as outlined in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), is to develop and sustain non-oil-based revenue generation for the country, with the maritime sector being the major area of attention.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is very passionate about the development of the nation’s economy through agriculture, and the NPA is committed to supporting the initiative and providing the nation with the appropriate platform and enabling environment for the exportation of Nigerian products.
“We are determined to making our ports customer-friendly by providing efficient service and offering best practices,” Bala-Usman said.
She added that seaport could not remain competitive without embracing global trends and discovering means of acquiring the technical know-how, evolving technology and innovation as well as meeting demands of new generation vessel, ship owners, shippers, terminal operators, importers and others.
Bala-Usman said that NPA would continue to acquiring more knowledge in its determination to reposition Nigerian ports for greater efficiency.