Lagos — Efforts by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in eliminating the challenges facing export in Nigeria are beginning to yield results as a total of 3.5 million metric tonnes of export trade were facilitated through the nation’s seaports in the first six months of this year, between January and June.
Speaking during a panel session on the export of non-oil products at the 2023 Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar in Lagos, held in Lagos, Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of NPA said that NPA has been recording growth in export since 2019.
He said in 2019, the ports recorded about 2.8 million metric tons of export, and it increased to 3.8 million metric tons in 2020.
According to him, export volume grew in 2021 to 3.79 million metric tons, and over 5.1 million metric tons in 2022.
He said the NPA is working closely with other government agencies such as Customs, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, to ensure that imports and exports are cleared out of the port faster.
“We need the Customs to reduce the time it takes to scan and inspect cargo because the faster it takes, the earlier the importer and exporters take their goods,” he said.
Bello-Koko said the collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service helped the NPA in achieving the feat as he expressed optimism that the agency will achieve more than it attained in previous years.
“NPA’s responsibility is to handle the logistics issue as relates to the delivery of cargo to ports, reviewing the cargo and also ensuring that it is loaded for the voyage. We encouraged the terminal operators to create hinterland aggregation points and dedicated spaces for export within the port terminals, but we need to realize that the ports are very small and therefore there are capacity issues.
“So, what we did was to create export processing terminals and the export processing terminals are one-stop shops where you consolidate, test, weigh, and pack it and then go straight into the ports. What the Customs did for us is to create an export command. This means there are individuals responsible for all export problems that you can relate with,” he said.
He said the NPA also created time belts for exports; created a lane for export to improve the speed of moving export to the port and the Lagos State Government has been working with them to enforce traffic regulations, especially along the port corridors, which helped to reduce congestion.
He added that the efforts really yielded results and facilitated the growth of exports leaving Nigerian ports.
“Don’t forget that shipping activities actually pick from the middle of the year, so you can perceive that we are going to achieve more than what we got last year,” he added.
Confirming the growth in export trade, Ezra Yakusak, executive director/CEO of Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said Nigeria had a non-oil export performance of $4.8 billion in 2022, which is the largest since the creation of NEPC in 1976.
“We exported 214 products which means that Nigeria has huge potential. About 1,122 companies exported to 122 countries. Last year, there was an increase of about 39.6 percent in the export of manufactured products, meaning that Nigerian export is changing from being mostly raw materials to becoming processed or manufactured products,” he said.
On his part, Adewale Adeniyi, acting comptroller general of Customs, who was represented by Mohammed Babandede, Customs Area Controller of Lilypond Export Command, said Customs has created a one-stop-shop that removes all delays that leads to rejection of Nigerian export in the international markets.
“By doing so, we have eliminated rejection and return of our cargo and also have reduced the cost of doing export business. We have also reduced intervention by other agencies and have also reduced the pilfering of containers. The NPA have dedicated routes this consignment can follow out of the ports,” he said.