Nigeria: Nexim Bank’s Sealink Project Nears Take-Off

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Mr Roberts Orya

Mr Roberts Orya

The $61.5 million Sealink project by the Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank to boost maritime trade by over 300 per cent among member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is close to take-off.

This follows the inaugural meeting of the Board of Sealink Promotional Company Limited -the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created to promote the establishment of a maritime shipping company that would connect the West African coastal ports, including Central Africa, in order to boost trade within the region.

When completed, the Sealink venture will greatly limit the period it takes to transport goods through the sea to neighbouring countries and drastically reduce the cost of doing business within the community.

The maiden board meeting of the company, which was held at Transimex Head Office,Douala Port, Cameroon sought to strategically contribute towards easing the impediments to movement of goods and persons within the ECOWAS and Central African sub-regions through the establishment of dedicated sea-going vessels.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NEXIM Bank, Mr. Roberts Orya, said the Sealink project would be of immense benefit to Nigerian manufacturers and exporters as it would allow for a structured access to the West and Central African markets in the short term.

He said already, majority of consumer products and raw materials for production in the ECOWAS markets originate from Nigeria stressing that the initiative would give added impetus to the country’s traders to access regional markets and boost manufacturing, forex earning and job creation at home.

Presenting the status of the project to the newly constituted board, the Coordinating Consultant, Mr. Tidiane Traore, stated that the Sealink Feasibility Study had been presented to the Gambian Port Authority; the Compagnie Beninoise de Navigation Maritime (COBENAM) – Benin and Nigeria Shippers Council.

Also presentations have been made to the ECOWAS Commission, ECOWAS Parliament, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Maritime Authority, World Bank, African Development Bank, and the Union of African Shippers Council.

He also informed the Board Members that proposals have been developed and sent out to donors for funding and that discussions are ongoing with the UNDP-funded African Training and Management Services (ATMS)/African Management Services Company (AMSCO), which assists in providing qualified, experienced, hands-on, professional management and related services to selected private companies and commercially operated public enterprises, with the aim of strengthening management teams while developing local management capacity.

Current members of the SPV Board are drawn from the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FEWACCI), TRANSIMEX Cameroun, which is a logistics company created in 1998 with principal objective of realising unique and complete logistics services for national and international clients.

Orya said the Sealink project would be a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative to help realise the objectives of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services as well as Right of Residence and Establishment, which was signed on 29th May 1979.

According to him, the primary objective for the NEXIM Bank in facilitating the project is to deepen trade among West African States and reduce the presently high cost of shipping goods by sea along the ECOWAS and Central African coastlines because in many instances, goods between West African destinations are transhipped through Europe or South Africa due to nonexistence of direct coastal sea links.

 

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