Experts decry lack of hubs, trade facilitation to support AfCFTA

Mrs Dabney Shallholma, Chairperson, Sealink Promotional Shipping Company, on Tuesday decried the lack of hubs and trade facilitation to support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Shallholma spoke on the topic, “Hindrances to Maritime Transport, Intervention and Mitigation Actions to Unlock them”, at the AfCFTA Nigeria Strategic Workshop Series II webinar with the theme, ”Nigeria- the Transportation Hub for Africa”.

She said, “The concern is on transportation hub for Africa; Nigeria is thinking about hubs and discussing them on seminars, but when it comes to implementation, it is not done.

“Hubs are international gateway that have a direct impact on the port, facilitate traffic along corridors, and it takes time to plan and develop.

“We are here today discussing on how to have trade facilitation and creation of hubs when we do not have have such at home,” she said.

She listed some of the hindrances as inadequate maritime security and safety, efficiency and performance not being well measured and lack of intermodal connectivity.

Shallholma said that lack of competitiveness in the market was also a factor, among others.

Some of the solutions, according to her, are to strengthen the legal framework, make conscious efforts to develop capacity, construct deep sea ports and improve on customs trade facilitation.

She said that the mitigating measures were to establish a harmonised traffic organisation, work on trade policy, have strong funding arrangement and strong partnership among industry stakeholders.

Shallholma, a former director at the Nigerian Shippers Council, said that the discussion on AfCFTA came late, but they were
glad it took place.

In his address of welcome, Mr Aminu Umar, Managing Director, Sea Transport Service, said that the ratification of the agreement would create opportunities for investment in shipping and maritime.

“Today, all movement of products, raw materials, finished goods will go through the free trade area, and this will increase inter-Africa shipping,” he said.

Ms Funmi Folorunso, Secretary General, African Shipowners Association, said that in order to actualise the objective of Nigeria to be the transportation hub, there was need for concerted effort, strategies identified and resources mobilised to achieve the goals.

She said that at the secretariat level, initiatives had been put up to get in contact with organisations and seek their opinions on the way forward.(NAN)

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