To grow the volume of non-oil export from Nigeria requires investment in logistics infrastructure, which is currently in short supply. However, logistics firms such as Oneport 365 are doing extraordinary things to ensure the country takes its rightful place in export business.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recent statistics show that the value of export trade in the first quarter of 2020 stood at N4.1 trillion, showing a decrease of 14.4 percent relative to the fourth quarter of 2019, and 9.98 percent decline compared to the value recorded in the first quarter of 2019.
Though, the slowdown in 2020 can be partially attributed to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, but it has become worrisome that the country is experiencing decline in export. Specifically, there has been a steady decline in export in the last three quarters.
Also, the statistics show that Nigeria is at a point where there is need for greater participation in international trade to lift the teeming population and economy from underdevelopment.
Therefore, it is now imperative for policy makers and visionary organisations to take steps that will facilitate export trade especially as it relates to non-oil export.
Interestingly, one organisation that has taken the initiative of promoting export business in Nigeria is Oneport 365. Headquartered in Lagos, this Nigerian firm is facilitating export by providing inland transportation, shipping, warehousing, Customs brokerage and marine insurance services, through its revolutionary web-based platform.
Apart from providing a solid platform that is geared towards growing export, Oneport 365 has mastered the Nigerian market while at the same time maintaining international expertise and reach. At present, it has an extensive network of vendors accessible via its platform that are offering vetted services to a broad array of clients that cut across Nigeria and beyond.
How Oneport 365 operates
Oneport 365 model was largely inspired by inefficiencies in the African logistics landscape. This includes the cost associated with moving cargo within and outside the continent because Africa is seen to be the most expensive continent to ship from and to.
Meanwhile, as the continent makes moves to deepen internal and external trade through the establishment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, there is greater need for logistics efficiency. Nigeria, which is the largest economy on the continent, has been one of the worst hit and this has truncated the prospect of non-oil trade over the years.
Interestingly, the OnePort 365 platform is a homegrown, web-based solution that streamlines and optimises companies’ end-toend freight processes and is accessible globally. It offers services by using technology to structure and automate freight management processes, which have been traditionally delivered through cumbersome, manual methods in the past.
Findings show that OnePort 365 gives individuals and corporates operational efficiency through greater oversight and control of their shipment and freight forwarding processes. Clients are able to scale their trade operations while minimising the associated cost of scaling.
In the last eight months, Oneport 365 has processed over 13,000 tons of containerised cargo through its platform. These requests came from clients who used the Oneport 365 online platform and those who were more inclined to traditional methods of face-to-face interactions. The latter are assisted by client service officers who use the online platform to execute the clients’ requests satisfactorily.
“Exporters and importers who go on the online platform have the opportunity of accessing a variety
of services including inland haulage services, shipping, warehousing, Customs brokerage and marine insurance services, all at one spot and without the usual additional stress of running between different physical locations to submit and process documentation for each distinct service,” said Hio Sola- Usidame, lead partner, Oneport 365 at a recent interview with newsmen.
Oneport 365, according to him, has approximately 40 warehouses in its network that are available on pay-as-you-go basis, which means exporters and importers pay only for space and time used as opposed to an annual payment, which results in avoidable waste of resources.
Particularly, an exporter or importer who needs a warehouse for a few months can specify the length of time he/she wants to use, and a specific warehouse from the variety can then be engaged for the service.
Also, the online platform is available to individuals residing in Nigeria as well as around the world and it provides access to several vendors and pricing per vendor across different services it offers.
In terms of logistics, OnePort 365 offers real time tracking and monitoring for shipments that is being processed from anywhere in the world. The system is technology based, and clients can simply log on to view their cargo’s real-time location and progress throughout the period of handling.
These processes are orchestrated online without piles of contract paperwork, spreadsheets and printed documentations.
Contribution to national imperatives
Analysts believed that digitisation of processes are critical to solving many of Nigeria’s age-long problems, especially in the area of trade facilitation.
By simplifying import and export procedures, providing quick access to quality and vetted cargo transport services at competitive rates, offering real-time tracking of freight for enhanced physical security and tailored Customs clearance services, the company is significantly fast-tracking the growth of international trade.
“Digitalisation is the next big step for Africa. In five years, platforms that offer online bookings will become the minimum standard in the sector. It would become easy to book export/import services, just the way we currently book flights via online travel agencies,” said Sola-usidame.
He said that it is fast becoming the trend in other climes, including the United States, India and Europe, where online based digital platforms are fast gaining ground in the freight forwarding business.
“We see more consolidations in varying forms among freight forwarders, as the industry realises the strength in collaboration using technology. This could also further standardise processes in logistics operations,” he added.
According to the World Bank, trade is an engine of growth that creates jobs, reduces poverty and increases economic opportunity. Over 1 billion people have moved out of poverty because of economic growth underpinned by open trade since 1990.
Industry stakeholders however believed that it is quite commendable that in the midst of a very challenging economic climate, a Nigerian company has created a platform that is supporting an open, easily accessible, predictable process that deepens trade.
This, they say, requires some encouragement from the government by way of improving basic infrastructure to help transport infrastructure.