*Negotiates acquisition of 4 vessels for intra-African trade
Lagos — AHEAD of the establishment of an African shipping firm under the Sealink Project, the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC and the African Export- Import Bank, Afreximbank, are currently in talks to acquire four vessels for a test-run of the Sealink Shipping Project for an intra-African shipping trade.
Disclosing this at the just concluded NECCIPR roundtable conference in Lagos, President of Afreximbank, Mr. Adeshola Olowononi, Head of Clients Service at the bank, said that both organizations were still negotiating as at last week.
Olowononi who represented the President of the bank, Mr. Benedict Oramah, at the conference, however, said he could not give out detailed confidential information on the negotiations.
He stated: “I cannot give confidential information yet but we are in discussion with them. We are the international lending partner in the project.”
Confirming the development, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, said that discussions over the Sealink project with Afreximbank has been going on for something adding that by next week there will be a general meeting of all parties involved in the project to work out the modalities amongst other issues.
Bello said that apart from the involvement of the Afreximbank, the Sealink project is also supported by other financial institutions so as to promote intra-African Ship trading activities amongst African countries.
He disclosed that the company is already registered adding that its headquarter will be in Lagos.
He stated: “Sealink is a project of the Afreximbank support by the Nigerian Shippers Council and other institutions for us to have Regional Cabotge.
“It is to enhance trade between African countries by providing the infrastructure that ships that would berth Africa will trade within Africa.
“The project has been on for many years but it approached the Fleet Implementation Committee and we have presentation before them.
“It is a good project, it has private sector participation because the fleet implementation is private sector led, it is not government.
“We are having a meeting in the next two weeks, a breakfast meeting between major organizations involved, namely, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the new Presidential Economic Advisory Council, and other stakeholders like master mariners, ship owners, so that they can see the incentive we are going to provide in the Sealink for them to operate successfully.
“The Sealink project is motivated by the need to enhance intra-African trade. I have always given the example of people who will like to transport Ginger to Ethiopia. They have to go to Spain to have it trans-shipped to Ethiopia because there is no shipping link between the two African countries.
“There are foreigners who have their vessels, they provide their schedules, they provide their routes and so of course, they will not make it, if they go through the African Coasts. But there are lots of trades to be done considering the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, ACTFA. We will find this very interesting and that is why we are going to enhance it.
“When we have the breakfast meeting we are going to bring this out but what you should know is that one of the brief of Afrieximbank is to promote intra-African trade which is very low at the moment.
“We are starting with four vessels, there is a state of readiness now, the vessels will soon be acquired because it will be registered by NIMASA as a national carrier carrying Nigerian flag.
“The company is already registered in Nigeria and it will have its Headquarters in Lagos.”