Nigeria approves National Single Window for ports, borders

Hauwa Mustapha, Abuja

The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Ameachi

Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi says President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a National Single Window for easy movement of goods along the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS’s, trade corridors.

The Minister disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the 5th Conference of Borderless Alliance held in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

He explained that Single Window is a complete computerization of the entire Ports entrance and the nation’s border posts noting that the system would eliminate time wasting components including check points and corruption thereby making it easier for people to transact their business without any hindrance.

“It makes it a lot easier for those who want to export or import to Nigeria to be able to deal with the Single Window rather than human beings. The more human beings you deal with, the more corruption you face and the more challenges you have” Amaechi explained.

Mr. Amaechi stressed the need for the Business Community in West Africa to take advantage of Nigeria’s economic climate and its proximity to  West African nations, and site their factories in the country adding that Nigeria is the biggest and largest market in the West Africa sub region.

According to him, “it is easier, less costly, hitch free to do business in Nigeria and you have the market, it is a right choice for business men”.

Mr Amaechi explained that Nigeria would like to import food from the other countries in the West Africa sub region rather than import outside Africa noting that Nigeria imports more than N2 Billion dollars of fish annually and over N3 Billion dollars of chicken, arguing that while Nigeria is struggling to be self sufficient in food production, it is ready to patronise any business man within member states if he sites his factory in Nigeria.

The Minister who assured the Borderless Alliance of Governments support, insisted that Benin Republic should encourage all member states including Nigeria to invest in her country by ensuring that her tax regime is lower and infrastructures are better than other countries stressing that Nigeria on its part has put some measures in place to attract investors from other countries within the West African Sub Region.

He also hinted that the Federal Government has made frantic efforts to address the issue of ineffective border management by establishing seven National Freight Offices, NFO, to be located at strategic border posts.

According to him, NFO would provide a one stop-shop for the operations of various institutions and Agencies.

“Already, the NFO at illela in Sokoto state  is 70 percent completed while an effort is being made to begin the construction of NFO at Seme border, Badagry’’Mr Amaechi added.

The Minister mentioned other measures taken so far by Nigerian government to promote a sub regional trade links amongst ECOWAS countries; these include establishment of Borders Information Centre, BICs, Sea link Project, Rail links as and others.

According to him, BIC is a project carried out in conjunction with USAID and West Africa Trade Hub, WATH, to give adequate information to cross border traders to effectively carry out seamless trade.

In his welcome address, the President of Borderless Alliance, Mr Ziad Hamoui said that his organisation was officially launched in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in May 2012 and has more than 80 members from across the region.

He explained further that for the success of the conference, his team has prepared sessions that would discuss the latest  trends, developments and challenges of trade and transport across West Africa and along the entire supply chains which according to him from sea ports to destination.

According to him the theme for the conference entitled “Regional Integration through Trade and Transport Developments” he said this was carefully chosen to reflect the trends and challenges across West African sub region.

“We believe that the best way to achieve prosperity for individuals, companies and governments in West Africa is to ensure free flow of trade in the Region” he added.

The Borderless Alliance’s President who informed the participants that he would step down from office, having worked for five years and expressed his gratitude to have supervised the great transformation of the organization from the new concept to the leading institution insisting that it is time to hand over the mantle to the new leadership for fresh ideas that would carry the organization forward successfully.