President Bola Tinubu has tasked African leaders on full automation to remain competitive in the maritime sector.
Mr Tinubu spoke at the 43rd Annual Council Meeting and 18th Roundtable of Managing Directors/Exhibition of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) on Monday in Lagos.
The meeting, hosted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), had the theme: ‘The Role of Ports in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).’
Mr Tinubu, represented by Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, noted that the region had a shared destiny with robust human capital and natural resource endowments and was largely connected by the same developmental challenges.
The president said the countries were duty-bound by posterity to unite and deploy their resources together and solve issues affecting socio-economic progress and development.
He pointed out that the ongoing discussions in Nigeria and other African countries on investing in infrastructure and equipment would support trade facilitation.
“My administration is especially interested in the maritime industry; this is why we created the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in the first instance.
“Even though we have physical national boundaries that separate us, the waters are a natural source of connectivity, and they seem like a subtle providential 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,” he said.
He also stressed the need for the infusion of information technology into public management to aid transparency and ease business processes.
Mr Tinubu noted that his administration had given the NPA the necessary backing to fast-track the operationalisation of the Port Community System.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of NPA, said the need to translate marine comparative advantages into opportunities for the collective prosperity of respective countries had never been more pressing than now.
According to Mr Bello-Koko, the demonstrated global leadership of ports in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) shows that the sustainability of the world, especially Africa, depends heavily on the sustainability of ports.
George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), noted that AfCFTA houses brilliant promises to deepen investment, boost trade, provide jobs, reduce poverty, and increase share prosperity in Africa.
Adewale Adeniyi, Controller General of Customs, pointed out that the platform would provide the opportunity to communicate across the board.