Nigeria’s import bill is currently standing at some $15 billion annually. In naira term, this amounts to some N5.4 trillion.
In the same vein, more than 5,300 vessels are now calling at the country’s ports yearly. This brings the value of goods shipped to the N5.4 trillion. These facts were however, made public by the Chairman of the Port Consultative Forum (PCF), Otunba Kunle Folarin.
According to him, ‘’these figures are from the formal trade alone and will certainly be bigger if we consider the informal trade aspects of cargo movements. Ships traffic into Nigeria by latest data exceeds 5,307 per annum. The current aggregate exceeds $15,000,000,000 a year through formal import order’’.
He also pointed out that despite the seeming diversion of ships to neighbouring countries, up to 70 percent of the sub-region’s cargo traffic is generated by Nigeria. ‘’Nigeria husbands at least, 70 percent of the political economy of the West African region. By recent statistics, Nigeria imports over 100,000 metric tons of non-oil cargo and approximately two million units of containers a year’’.
Folarin said with the size and scope of the Nigerian maritime sector, ‘’it demands close attention due to its value in the political, economic and social structure of the nation’’, noting that the issues at stake are the prime indicators of the critical factors that propel the growth and dynamics of Nigeria as a developing economy and the largest regional power in West and Central Africa.
Adding, he said, ‘’it is therefore settled that the maritime sector performance is indeed a major contributor to the economy and therefore must be given attention on any discussion on port cost and port charges’’.
The port consultative forum big boss was speaking at 3rd Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference on the theme “Port Cost and Port Charges a Recurring Decimal. The conference was put together by the Maritime Forum of the University of Lagos in conjunction with the Sifax Group.