• Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

    Intra-African trade: NEXIM, Afreximbank to develop Lower River Niger inland waterways 

    ByBassey Udo

    Mar 28, 2023

    L-R: Minister for Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, with Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa during the unveiled of the Chart.

    African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is partnering with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Navy to facilitate the development of the lower River Niger water channel to promote movement of goods using navigable waterways in Nigeria.

    Afreximbank as a systemically important and market-failure bank for Africa would provide a grant of $350,000, in addition to leveraging its capacities to realise the initiative. 

    To unlock the huge potentials in transportation on Nigeria’s inland waterways, the Minister for Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, on Tuesday, March 16, unveiled the Navigational Charts of the Lower River Niger. 

    He was supported on the occasion by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

    The Charting project was made possible by the grant from Afreximbank in recognition of the importance of inland waterways transportation and by extension, coastal waterways transportation, to its mandate of promoting Intra-African trade.

    At the unveiling event, the Minister for Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, hailed the support from Afreximbank through the grant and reiterated the importance of water transportation as the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation with significant economic benefits. 

    He cited the example of the United States of America where 60 percent of agricultural produce were moved through inland waterways.

    The Minister commended the efforts of all the parties involved in the activity and made commitment to progressing the subsequent activities involved to make the movement of goods on the lower River Niger from the hinterlands to the coastal lands possible.

    Afreximbank was represented at the event by its Manager Trade Finance, Anglophone West Africa, Remigius Nwachukwu, who commended the leadership and vision of the President/ Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Afreximbank,Benedict Oramah, towards the realization of this project. 

    9 He said the project falls clearly within the ambit of the mandate of Afreximbank in promoting, facilitating and financing intra- and extra-African trade.

    Afreximbank also noted that existing African infrastructure was designed to carry African commodities to the global markets and not to facilitate intra-African trade. 

    In this context, Afreximbank decided to support the development of the maritime sector, including inland waterways, to ensure there were efficient and cost-effective routes to facilitate intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

    The launch of the navigational charts was followed by a Maritime Survey and Charting Project executed by the Sealink Consortium in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and NEXIM bank, which was financed through the grant from Afreximbank. The Navigational Charting was undertaken by a wholly indigenous team from the Nigerian Navy and NIWA.

    The Regional Sealink Project is a trade facilitation initiative designed to bridge critical logistics infrastructure gap toward facilitating and deepening inland and intra-coastal waterways operations. 

    The charts provide information on navigable and restricted areas of the river channel as well as serve as a springboard to attaining a fully developed navigable channel.

    The Charting covered a distance of 456 kilometres from Jamata, Lokoja to Burutu, and have been approved by the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts having met International Hydrographic Organization’s standards.

    Although some more work like dredging and removal of identified wrecks are still expected to be done on the channel, navigational activities can commence with the use of the Charts which Mariners can obtain from the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts either in hard copy or electronic form.

    Afreximbank, a pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade, deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. 

    The Bank is also stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), with a pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA.

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