By Muyiwa Lucas
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has declared its readiness to strengthen the country’s economic relations with the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, especially in port and shipping. This, it is believed, will boost both countries’ capacities to compete in global and regional trade.
The Acting Managing Director, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, stated this while receiving a delegation from the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire who paid him a courtesy visit at the authority’s Corporate headquarters in Marina, Lagos.
Bello-Koko stated that the Nigerian government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has introduced far-reaching reforms to facilitate cross border trade, particularly nurturing a multi-modal port system to reduce the cost of shipments in and out of the country.
He informed the delegation that one of the greenfield ports, the Lekki Deep Seaport, with capacity to berth ultra-large cargo vessels, is billed to commence operation by the second quarter of next year.
The Acting MD said the the NPA was giving priority to non-oil export trade, stating that export processing terminals were being established to take advantage of opportunities under AfCFTA.
While calling on the Ivorien business community to increase their share of trade with Nigeria, Bello-Koko assured the delegation that the NPA would address the non-tariff barriers and restrictions to trade between the two countries.
He added that there is room for information sharing and the need for them to cooperate more in training of staff and technology transfer.
He sought the support of Cote d’Ivoire for Nigeria’s candidate to emerge as the next Secretary-General of the Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA).
The Ambassador, Cote d’Ivoire to Nigeria, Traore Kalilou, described the bilateral relations between the countries as strategic and that he looked forward to a review of agreements before the end of the year.
He commended the NPA management on its value adding interventions, which has raised the performance of the country’s supply chain.