By Chiazo Ogbolu
Lagos, Feb. 9, 2021 The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on Tuesday urged government to take urgent actions to ensure Nigeria reaps maximum benefits under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The President of NAGAFF, Mr Increase Uche, made the appeal at the the National Action Committee on AfCFTA Implementation Engagement Series for the maritime sub-sector (freight forwarders and shippers).
According to him, taking the urgent actions will ensure that Nigeria is ahead of others and places its resources strategically to make an impact.
He said that creating a deep sea port to provide the transshipment needs in the maritime sector and making the port competitive were necessary.
“Government should itensify action in the fight against corruption and put in place an ending process that will lead to cargo evacuation, provide adequate incentive and reintroduce the export expansion grant.
“ Others are, to encourage and create capacity for robust export promotion in Nigeria, capacity building to set the stage for development of freight forwarders and total overhaul of the exchange control environment in Nigeria,” Uche said.
He listed some challenges faced by freight forwarders that needed to be tackled as poor funding and incentives, lack of capacity by practitioners to deal with the commercial challenges and resistance to change by players who do not want to embrace the new order.
Uche also cited non competitiveness of the ports, government fiscal and monetary policies, undue restrictions on trade goods, and delays in the review and passage of the various maritime bills into law and others.
He suggested a review of the provisions of the existing trade laws and regulations and repeal of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).
The NAGAFF boss called for the review of the Customs licensing regulation and establishment of a freight forwarding professional body.
“The whole idea about AfCFTA is the effective and strategic positioning of resources and the efficient management of the supply chain and the freight forwarders in Nigeria have a critical role to perform in the Continental Free Trade as the managers of the logistics supply chain.
“The immediate solution is for the National Action Committee (NAC) to prevail on the government to develop the will power to implement the far reaching suggestions and inputs made so far by all concerned,” he said.
Mr Cajetan Agu, Director, Consumer Affairs, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, noted that there was need for the country to look at certain indicators such as Global Logistics Index, Connectivity index and others.
According to him, for the Global Logistics Index, Nigeria was ranked 14 in Africa.
He said that for major hubs in Africa, the cargo dwell time for Cotonu is 7-days; Kenya, 4-5 days; and Apapa port 22-days.
“For connectivity index which measures nearness of a country to global market, Nigeria is 27 per cent, 8th position in Africa and all these indicators show that Nigeria is far away,” he said.
Agu said that for the country to participate in AfCFTA and reap its benefits, export products should be competitive, there should be cargo protecting and consolidation on the part of freight forwarders, awareness of protocols and interconnectivity of all modes of transport.
Mr Alban Igwe from the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) said that instead of transportation hub, the country should look for transshipment hub because the country could earn a lot of money from services than cargo.
He said that for the country to play in the big market, there was need for freight forwarders to consolidate their services and build a strategic strength.