The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has disclosed that transportation provides the means through which the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), for the country can be actualized.

The Minister stated this in Abuja today at a 2-day International Conference with the theme, “The Role of Transport in the Implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Transportation, (NITT), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

Amaechi who was represented by the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, said: “The transportation sector is the most critical in implementing trade facilitation, enhancing regional integration and key to every other AfCFTA protocol. Hence, the Nigerian government has embarked on huge transport infrastructure investment across the country to ensure efficiency in the transportation sector”.

According to the Minister, “Transportation and AfCFTA are like Siamese twins as they are intricately linked. Transportation provides the vehicle through which the major objective of AfCFTA thrives; that is, creating a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of businesses, persons and investments, promoting regional and continental integration, market access and resources reallocation across sectors and countries

The Minister further stated that it is the realization of the important role transportation plays in AfCFTA implementation that is responsible for the concerted efforts the Ministry is making in providing intermodal transportation by linking major seaports in the country with rail line,” adding that with the completion of the rail to Apapa Port Complex, goods will move from the ports to the dry port complexes in Ibadan while those for Kaduna and Kano will continue to use the Kaduna or Dala dry ports.

Also, being mindful of ease of doing business, the Minister said government is improving on digital Infrastructure by automating rail, marine and road operations, completing ongoing transport projects, implementing quality infrastructure, enforcing quality standards and sustained quality service delivery on rail and other government infrastructure .

In her presentation, the Honourable Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, who was also represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani,  acknowledged Nigeria’s desire to key into AfCTA’s single continental market, amongst African nations but observed that there was the need to engage in massive nationwide awareness and sensitisation tour by the National Action Committee (NAC) on AfCFTA, provision of automated weigh bridges, seamless process of screening all means of transportation, synergy between relevant government agencies, promoting connectivity of all transport system, pursuing implementation of the Single Window for Ports Operations among others.

Saraki expressed the belief that “The Nigerian Transportation Infrastructure is a promising potential for AfCFTA implementation and we hope that the outcome of this conference will give a better perspective on what more we can do as a sector to tap into the potentials of AfCFTA.”

Speaking earlier, the Director General, Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), Dr. Bayero Salih-Farah, said: “Intra-African trade stands at about 15%, an abysmal fact attributable to unnecessary bottlenecks and infrastructure deficit. Therefore, there is urgent need for massive investment in connectivity and transportation infrastructure, because transportation is the link between all factors of production.”

“Transport infrastructure is widely seen as an enabling industry that facilitates national, regional, and international integration and trade, Farah said, while calling on the country to explore the innumerable positives that can be exploited from the Single Continental Market initiative.

Expressing the same view, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Sen. Abdulfatai Omotayo and Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport, Abbas Tajuddeen, called on the Ministry, stakeholders and participants to deliver a workable framework that will stand the test of time while affirming the readiness of the National Assembly to pass bills that will facilitate Nigeria’s participation in the Single Continental Market for Africa.

Day 1 of the event had in attendance: Chairman, NITT Governing Council , Mr. Olorogun John, former Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority, George Moghalu, AfCFTA, NAC, Secretary/Senior Special Adviser to the President on Public Sector Matters, Francis Anatogu and Head, Trade Logistics, United Nations Conference on Trade, Jan Hoffman, joined via virtually.
Eric Ojiekwe
Director, Press & PR
29th November, 2021