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IAPH regional conference sets pan-African ports agenda

IAPH regional conference sets pan-African ports agenda
Photo credit: Nigerian Ports Association

21 Sep 2018

From 17-19 September 2018, International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH) Vice-President in Africa, Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman, hosted the first regional conference under the new IAPH constitution.

Held in Abuja, Nigeria, in the presence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and representatives of IMO, UNCTAD and the World Bank, the successful three-day conference focused on hinterland connectivity of African ports.

The event concluded with a highly attended Regional Meeting, during which VP Bala Usman and IAPH Managing Director Patrick Verhoeven interacted with present and potential African members. The meeting proposed to develop a strategic pan-African ports agenda under the World Ports Sustainability Program, outlining priority actions on infrastructure, operations and governance.

Presentations are available for downloading from the conference website.

Improved port infrastructure – pivotal to African economic growth

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, advocated for the effective deployment of improved port infrastructure across all countries within the continent in order to maximize maritime potentials within the territory.

Addressing participants at the Conference, Buhari submitted that the linkage of port operation to the hinterland by multi modal transport techniques would result in the commendable economic growth and improved standard of living of the people. He therefore charged participants to synergize and collaborate with one another.

According to the President, this inter-connectivity would infer in great enabling environment and frontier for competitive edges if well managed. He added that the availability of standard rail lines and effective road networks amongst others would result in plausible African prosperity across board: “The same level of serious attention is being given the improved road infrastructure”.

“At the moment, 25 major highways and 44 roads are under construction across six geopolitical zones of the country just as we have insisted on the stimulation of activities on the inland waterways.”

The President said that as part of the economic recovery growth plan of the government, the ease of doing business would help drive trade facilitation both in the nation, across Africa and by implication the world at large.

In his address, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi urged participants at the Conference to optimize their comparative advantages in order to improve the welfare of the people.

He stated that Government is committed to the deployment of multi transportation modes of operation in the sector, by way of improved rail services and other supply chains to the Hinterland.

“With the development of the inland dry port in Kano and Kaduna, with the direct rail connection also, cargoes and containers are easily transported to Northern Nigeria... We are partnering with the government of Niger Republic in the construction of Maradi from Kano to promote regional motivation of trade and inter connectivity”.

Speaking at the Conference, the African Regional Vice President (IAPH), Hadiza Bala Usman who also is the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said that Africa definitely has a place of pride amidst the fact that 39 out of the 54 countries in the continent are endowed with littoral assets calling for optimal exploitation of these vast maritime dividends.

The NPA MD enjoined operators within the continent to imbibe best practices in the areas of speed of operation in service delivery as well as adopting of new techniques amongst others reiterated that IAPH from inception had helped promote port development across the world through Synergy and Collaboration for efficient and effective port operations and shipping activities.

Similarly, she stressed that members of the Association leverage on one another’s technical expertise in line with best practices pointing out that the use of barges, inland water ways, the efficient utilization of dry ports and the deployment of pipelines for the evacuation of cargoes across African ports and indeed the world over is the route to go should we want to compare within the comity of Nations.

Hadiza said: “Organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO), The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD are here to avail us the opportunity to latest global practice and environment that exists for the development of Ports in Africa.”

The Conference is a gathering of Technocrats, stakeholders and Operators in the world under one roof in attempt at proffering solutions to the many questions facing port operations globally but with specific consideration on matters concerning “Hinterland Connectivity”.

The Conference’s areas of discussion include: Prioritization of effective policies, funding, Infrastructural Upgrade, Administrative Excellence, Blue Economy and Regional Integration. Others areas of coverage include: Operational Efficiency, Digital Infusion and ICT utilization, Trade Facilitation, Capacity Building, Revenue Generation and other areas of Best practices as may echo during the conference.


Communiqué of the African Regional Conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) in Abuja

Theme: African Ports & Hinterland Connectivity

Fundamental issues that arose from the Conference are:

  1. Ports are strategic national assets;

  2. For economies to grow in the right direction, there is need for investments in port and evacuation infrastructure to facilitate hinterland connectivity;

  3. Connectivity for economic growth, expansion and integration should be viewed from the perspective of domestic, sub-regional, continental and international trade domain;

  4. There is need to develop sustainable multi-modal transport linkages with emphasis on rail, inland waterways and pipeline infrastructure;

  5. To overcome the cumbersome and difficult experiences on intra-Africa trade route occasioned by heavy infrastructural deficit and unfriendly border post procedures, there is need for Ministerial/ inter-Government collaborations across sub and regional levels;

  6. African countries need to leverage on the support platforms provided by international bodies such as the IMO, WTO, UNCTAD, ACMA and others to build technical, financial and operational competence and capacity to raise standards and efficiency levels;

  7. To encourage funding, port service providers are encouraged to form viable consortiums to provide the required size for credit guarantees;

  8. Promotion of the use of ICDs and off-dock facilities as a measure of promoting hinterland connectivity;

  9. African ports are encouraged to develop the right capacity to take investment opportunities in landlocked countries;

  10. Need for African ports to adopt best practices in terms of human capacity and expertise;

  11. Development of capacity building in ICT and port community systems to improve efficiency and reduce corruption;

  12. Take advantage of opportunities afforded by infrastructural financial institutions such as AfDB, ADF and NTF to access funds required to address the menace of infrastructural deficits;

  13. Need to operate within the prescription of the FAL convention to mitigate border post problems and associated delays and connectivity restrictions;

  14. There is the need for sustained promotion of the ideals/ objectives of Corridor Management Institutions (CMIs) as promoted by ACMA;

  15. Need to consider measures aimed at sustainable environmental protection as the ports and transportation network develop in response to increasing demands of logistics, connectivity and regional integration;

  16. Need to build models that will domesticate environmental compliance processes with regard to the peculiarity of the African situation;

  17. Need for African ports to develop capacities for standards that are comparable to global best practice;

  18. Introduction and strengthening of private sector participation (PPP) to improve dilapidated port infrastructure and efficiency in port operations;

  19. Creating awareness and taking measures to mitigate the negative effects of marine pollution and environmental degradation that could harm the population;

  20. Motivating the ports to pursue agenda that will facilitate ISO compliance in line with current trend on standardization and best practices;

  21. Countries need to look into the possibilities of partnering to develop regional deep-sea ports;

  22. The need for cooperation and synergy between littoral ports and dry ports in the African region to improve hinterland connectivity;

  23. The need to encourage women integration and capacity building in the maritime sector;

  24. Giving incentives and prioritizing services rendered to dry ports to create volume traffic as seen in the case between Dakar Port Authority and Bamako Port in Mali;

  25. Strengthening corporate social responsibilities between the ports and ports community through incentive packages that will make the communities ambassadors of ports

  26. The president of Nigeria encouraged participants to see their participation as privileged and the need to serve their countries with optimum loyalty in ensuring they contribute their quota to trade facilitation and total integration of African economies.