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Foreign cargo leaves Nigeria’s ports unloaded

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Since the start of 2022, the nation has seen stagnation in outbound air cargo.

Due to the record of low output in Export Air Cargo experienced at the start of 2022, the Federal Government has stated that its efforts to achieve export-driven Economic Growth throughout the country could not be achieved anytime soon. According to information provided by the National Bureau of Statistics, outgoing air cargo in the third quarter of 2022, which concluded on September 30, 2022 (Q3’22), reported a small rise of 3 percent, which is N820 million, moving from N30.1 million for the second quarter of 2022 (Q2’22), to N30.92 billion in the third quarter of 2022 (Q3’22).

Despite the fact that the statistics for Q3’22 reflects a rise of 170 percent, which is N19.44 billion, from the N11.48 billion reported in the same period of 2021, Q3’21, the cause of this rise is the Federal Government’s decision to suspend flights because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, an analysis of the air cargo numbers indicates that inbound cargo also saw a slight increase during the time period, rising to N271 billion, or 5%, surpassing the N256 billion documented in Q2’22.

Majority of inbound airplanes leave Nigeria empty due to export fall.

In comparison to the N375.19 billion reported in Q3’21, the inbound figure shows a significant YoY decline of 28%. According to the statistics as a whole, the majority of airplanes that bring air cargo to Nigeria depart the nation with small or no cargo, indicating that the country has an excessive amount of imports and very few exports. Further analysis of the evolution revealed that air transport accounted for 0.52 percent of local exports and 4.8 percent of overall imports. The re-exportation of goods with a value of N292.30 million was also mentioned in the report. The term “re-exported goods” refers to items of foreign origin that were brought into Nigeria to be consumed but sold to another nation without undergoing significant changes.

According to the report, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, also known as MMIA, ranked fourth among the top five major ports in exports, with commodities having a total value of N29 million. Most export activities were conducted through Apapa Port, which is responsible for the shipment of goods with a total cost of N6 billion, representing 95.21 percent of all exports. Similarly, during the period under consideration, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, as well as Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, were two of the 10 leading posts or ports of Trade operation for export. At the same time, Kano Airport and Murtala Muhammed Cargo ranked among the 10 leading import airports.

Africa also recorded a reduction in global passenger and cargo traffic.

Even though Africa is home to over a billion people, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed dissatisfaction with the continent’s unimpressive cargo and passenger traffic. The international body noted that despite the region’s huge population, it only makes up 1.9% of international freight and passenger traffic. Kamil Alawadhi, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East, says this highlights the continued need for improvement in Africa. Lack of intra-African connectedness and impediments to access to the market are primarily responsible for the decline and dismal passenger and freight traffic.

The current African Civil Aviation Commission, AFCAC Pilot Implementation Project (PIP) is a positive development, and if its 17 nations involved engage in and play by the rules, it could serve as a compelling indication to the continent’s remaining 38 nations of the economic, commercial, and social benefits that await. Alawadhi, on the other hand, said that the PIP is a step upward to the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM). SAATM’s fifth freedom of transportation rights is its most appealing feature, but the details matter. They need a shared definition and application of market freedoms. It takes just as much effort to remove additional protectionist tools like inconsistency and discriminatory pricing, and administrative impediments that go against SAATM’s purpose and aims.

Nigeria is working with other international bodies to improve its economy.

In an effort to make up for the shortage of cargo transport, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) of the Netherlands have put together a Market Orientation Mission (MOM) to the Netherlands and France. Dr. Ezra Yakusak, NEPC’s Executive Director/Chief Executive, said the alliance would improve commodity quality through market access, capacity-building, and a Common Facility Centre (CFC). The mission will hold export market access workshops, meet Rotterdam spice buyers, and attend Food Ingredients Europe (FIE) in Paris, France.


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