Nigeria’s transportation service trade deficit to hit $2.43bn
• Water Movement Contributes 0.01 To GDP
There are concerns about the current status of Nigeria’s transportation sector, even as indications emerged that the trade deficit will hit $2.43 billion in 2022.
Stakeholders at the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) Breakfast Series held in Lagos, lamented the government’s poor attitude towards developing the sector, which is crucial to the nation’s trade.
Guest Speaker at the event and Managing Director, Analyst Data Services and Resources, Afolabi Olowookere, said transportation service trade has always been in deficit for Nigeria, implying the country pays out more than it earns. He said the deficit is estimated at $2.43 billion in 2022.
He lamented the situation whereby passenger and freight deficits of $1.06 billion and $3.48 billion respectively were recorded in 2020 and estimated at $1.19 billion and $2.66 billion respectively for 2021 accordingly.
Meanwhile, he said water transportation contributed a paltry 0.01 to Nigeria’s GDP in 2021. Olowookere, who also lamented the underdevelopment of the water transportation/maritime sector, said the sector has a lot of potential for growth and to contribute to the general development of the country, but it has been underutilised.
He noted that major sectors of the Nigerian GDP are Agriculture (23.7%); Manufacturing (14.83%); Trade (13.42%); ICT (10.41%); Construction (9.56%); Mining and Quarrying (6.19%) while Rail Transport & Pipelines contributes 0.00 per cent.
This, according to him showed that water transport only added N10 billion of a total N176.08 trillion GDP in 2021.
Noting that the maritime industry was beyond water transportation, Olowookere said the contribution of the industry to GDP appears small when the narrow definition of water transportation is considered, but a wider definition suggests that it is a major driver of other key sectors of the economy.
He listed the challenges of the maritime industry to include security and safety challenges; underdevelopment of Inland waterways transport; unpredictable maritime transport policy; low share of indigenous carriers; heavy congestion of seaports; poor transit and transshipment facilities.
Others are high bureaucratic clearing process involving multiple agencies and non-automated processes; shortfall of skilled manpower and professionals; poor financing and non disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
President of NMLA, Funke Agbor, said the association is concerned about the maritime industry, which is an economic sector that has not been fully developed, and had to engage industry players to discuss the challenges facing the sector.
According to her, the problems have existed for more than 40 years, but the NMLA wants things to be done differently.
“We want to make sure the industry is working together to make the changes we want. We also want to use ourselves as an advocacy group to infiltrate the government. Most importantly, we all agreed that changes need to be made in the maritime sector. We can use facts and figures to show the government that we can do things differently,” she said.
Using customs revenue as an example, Agbor, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the interest in revenue generation prevents customs from facilitating trade.
“We now have to show the government that if customs facilitates trade, profits can be made in areas such as logistics and freight, among others,” she added.
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