Economy

Efficient trade is panacea for Africa’s growth – Official

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Mr. Faisai Mohammed, Deputy Director of Trade Services of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), said that for the African region to experience effective growth and development, it must boost trade.

Mohammed revealed it to the Nigerian News Agency on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC) expert committee in Abuja.

According to him, statistics have shown that the richest countries are those who trade within themselves in their region, while the poorest depend on other regions to trade.

“These are statistics that cannot be faulted. So, for Africa to develop, it must boost its trade.

“To grow he has to simplify his processes, we have some of the heaviest trading processes; whether for export or import.

“You control these processes or facilitate them, you trade more. So, we need to streamline our processes, automate our processes because human-to-human interactions lead to process delays; it’s natural.

“Whether it’s out of vanity or laziness, once a human being is in charge of a process you tend to see it slow down. When it’s automated, it gets faster, ”he said.

Mohammed stressed the importance of educating traders to let them know what they are venturing into.

He said traders need to come together to enlighten each other and expose themselves to modern trends.

“When you do this, everyone knows what to do when it comes to trading.

“You will be surprised at how many people trade without knowing what to do and when it doesn’t happen at the port, it becomes a problem.

“The truth is, ports are a very dangerous place if you don’t know what you are doing; you will be cheated and most of the traders go through such sneaky trades that make them unwilling to trade.

The trade expert reiterated the importance of political will, saying that without it there was very little to do.

Government policy is also essential, he said, because at the end of the day what the government decides is what happens in trade.

“If the government’s promises are consistent as to what is traded, how and where to trade, then trade will run smoothly.

“But if the government changes its policy, if there is a summer policy, then despite everything that happens, you are back to square one.”

Regarding the high shipping costs, fees and surcharges, Mohammed explained that this was not specific to Nigeria but to the whole sub-region.

He said that was the reason for the expert meeting, for member states to mount united and concerted efforts to achieve the desired results.

While explaining the reasons for the surcharges, he noted that some of them were self-inflicted due to poor handling infrastructure.

“You will see our ports with four or five cranes, which will always cause traffic jams at sea, ships are delayed while waiting for packing space.

“Second, we have very little automation; our processes in the ports are hardly automated, and you know what that entails, it will always cause artificial and underhanded delays.

“And if this is the case in most of West Africa, then you should expect these service providers to take advantage of these things to increase the surcharges,” he explained.

Source: NAN

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