The Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank said on Wednesday that it would execute a 60 million dollar Regional Sealink Project for West and Central Africa. The project, in conjunction with the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), is expected to commence within the next three years of complete operation.
Mr Robert Orya, the Managing Director, NEXIM Bank, made this known at the sensitisation and pre-investors forum held for stakeholders in Lagos. “The purpose of the Sealink project is to foster indigenous participation in the maritime sector through minimising of freight rate payment capital flight of the average of $5 billion annually.
“The project is also to cut across West and Central Africa with an aim to provide immediate impact to the amelioration of basic road infrastructure which has slowed African and ECOWAS trade levels by 20 per cent. The total project cost is estimated at 60 million dollars with 36 million dollars to procure vessels, equipment, office space and other infrastructure. 24 million dollars will be the working capital to cover the general and administrative expenses, summarised as equity of 36 million dollars and debt financing of 24 million dollars,” he said.
Orya added that the project would enhance competitiveness by improving the level from its rate of six per cent to a higher rate. He also said that the project would make Nigeria a maritime hub for West and Central Africa and enable NEXIM to achieve its projected credit growth by improving intra-regional trade levels to about 15 per cent annually. He said that the operational model would be to open initial service at 10 ports with combined passenger and freight services and initial deployment of three vessels. Dr Ademola Ajayi, the National President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), lauded the Federal Government for supporting the project.
Ajayi said that the project would put an end to the challenges faced due to time and high cost of freight due to the absence of direct shipping line plying the West African corridor. Dr John Osemede, Director-General, NACCIMA, said that the project would create jobs and investment opportunities, thereby meeting with the Federal Government economic objectives and transformation agenda.