NEXIM: ECOWAS Regional Shipping Line to Commence Operation Q1 2023
As Nigeria’s effort to float a national shipping line falters, a sub-Saharan regional shipping line, Sealink floated by a consortium would commence operation in the first quarter (Q1) 2023.
Nigeria’s plan to float a national shipping line hasn’t materialize since the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), which at its peak had 29 ocean going vessels.
Speaking at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) 2022 Annual Conference with the theme, “Boosting Domestic Capacity for Sustainable Export Earnings,” held in Lagos, Head, Strategy and Communication, Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr. Tayo Omidiji has disclosed that the Sealink Project was conceived out of the need for Nigeria to have regional shipping line.
“The Sealink Promotional Company Limited (SPCL) is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement established for the purpose of promoting the development of a regional sealink company that would be private sector driven, “he stated.
Nigeria, Omidiji pointed out, currently engages the service of foreign vessels to move goods outside the country, which is expensive and has a negative impact on its foreign exchange earnings.
Omidiji further stated that 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.
Specifically, he stated,, “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 added that a lot had been done in terms of financing the project adding that the Ebola epidemic, and inability to find a partnership agreement slowed it down.
“We later thought of further expanding the scope of the project. 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 terms of 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, ” Omioji explained further
He disclosed that NEXIM is currently working with the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Inland Ways Authority (NIWA) and others to ensure smooth execution of the project.
“Right now, we are charting and plotting the inland waterway, so that we can use barges to move some commodities,” added.