A group of West African banking and marine organisations launched the shipping line Sealink in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and it is scheduled to start running in the first quarter of 2023.
The Nigeria Export-Import Bank's (NEXIM) Head of Strategy and Communication, Mr. Tayo Omioji, made this announcement at the recently finished Lagos 2022 Annual Conference of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN), which had as its theme "Boosting Domestic Capacity for Sustainable Export Earnings."
In order to support the creation of a regional sea link company that would be driven by the private sector, the Sealink Promotional Company Ltd. (SPCL) was founded as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Omidiji said the Sealink project was conceived out of the need for Nigeria to have regional shipping, noting that the country currently engages the service of foreign vessels to move goods outside the country, which is expensive and having negative impacts on its foreign exchange earnings.
According to him, reliance on foreign vessels increases cost and travel time as goods are first moved from Nigeria to the point of origin of the vessels and then to the final destination.
“If we have our own shipping line, we can move our goods from other countries and bring them directly to Nigeria before moving to other countries,” he explained.
Giving more details on shipping in the region, Omidiji said, “In addition to having a shipping project that allows moving our goods on international water, we also felt that we should also find scope in inland waterways. We need to do more in the infrastructure to move the goods from the cities to export destinations. We need to also develop our inland waterways. We can use barges to carry goods in the absence of port materials. That was why we were finding a scope in inland waterways,” he stated.