The maritime sector through Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) is set to get improved infrastructural boost as Heritage Bank Plc revealed plans to provide financing for building critical maritime infrastructure in the country.
The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, was quoted in a statement, to have disclosed this as one of the panelists at the day-one of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) Africa regional conference, themed, “African Ports & Hinterland Connectivity,” holding in Abuja.
He also stated that banks were willing to provide the necessary financing and support, saying that the operators must be clear on where they are headed.
“The government will need to develop policies that will manage infrastructure programmes and we as bankers will give support. We are sure we can support, and we are sure going to support,” he said.
He added that, “the banking industry must stake in financing but we must have an understanding on what the industry wants.”
He said Heritage Bank decided to sponsor and attend the conference to understand the focus of the industry.
He also said the banks were willing to offer, and are working on the possibilities of developing long-term loans with lower interest rate for operators in the industry.
Although “there is the cabotage fund and shippers are taking advantage of it. We are still struggling with the kind of long-term funding shippers need to attain the level of optimisation they need, and talk is in progress.
“We are engaging the relevant stakeholders to make sure we get loans at cheaper interest rates for them but that can’t happen overnight.
“The commercial rates today are in the neighbourhood of 20 to 23 per cent, but the cabotage is between nine to 13 per cent interest rate.
“But how many of them have been able to borrow from the cabotage funds given the requirements?” he queried.