President Muhammadu Buhari says Africa should take full advantage of maritime endowment within the continent as part of measures to strengthen economic development.
The president said this during the opening ceremony of the first International Association For Ports and Harbours (IAPH) Africa regional conference hosted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Abuja, on Monday.
He said nations in Africa are largely connected by the same developmental challenges “as well as large human capital and natural endowments”.
The Nigerian leader said countries must work together and deploy resources towards solving their common challenges.
“A situation in which at least 39 of the 54 countries on the continent are either littoral or island states makes the formulation of policies for the effective utilisation of our waters for the growth of our economies expedient,” he said.
“This, in a sense, seems to be a divine ordination of our desire for continental integration. Even though we have physical national boundaries that separate us, the waters are a natural source of connectivity and they seem like a subtle message that we must work together for the good of all our countries.
“This is why there could be no better time than now to hold this conference. The theme of the conference: African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity is itself a testament of the determination of the organisers of the conference to, collectively seek lasting solutions to the challenges that port operations face on the continent.
“This administration that I am privileged to lead is committed to rebuilding infrastructure that supports multimodal means of transportation from the ports to the hinterland. We understand that this interconnectivity will improve the country’s economic competitiveness as targeted under the economic recovery and growth.
“So for starters, I have directed that every port must have the complement of rail infrastructure. Our projections is that by the end of 2021, we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.”
Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, said the current administration is committed to the development and utilisation of the nation’s port potentials.
“Our desire in Nigeria is to have ports that are not just part of transport and logistics supply chains in themselves, but Ports which are landlocked transit corridors and directly connected through rail to the inland dry ports for efficient evacuation of cargoes,” he said.
“We are as a result committed to developing the intermodal transport system as a mechanism to reinvigorate the conveyance of maritime logistics.”