By Stephen Ubanna
Mohammed Bello-Koko, acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has a big task at hand: To digitalise the Authority Operations by 2025. As a prelude to ensuring that the agency’s operations become digitalised by 2025, the NPA, Managing had said that ‘’deliberate measures and investments are being undertaken to create a fully digital ecosystem in all the country’s port locations by 2025. At present, no agency of the Federal ministry of Transportation, under the close watch of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state have digitalised its operations. If that could be achieved within the space of time set for it by the Leadership of the Authority, it will make it the first port in the West and Central African sub-region to attain that height,that will put it at the same level with other International ports in the world.
Giving a presentation on the Authority’s “Digitalisation Roadmap and Current Information and Communications Technology,ICT, Implementation Status” at the 41st Ports Management Association of West and Central Africa ,PMAWCA, Annual Council Meeting and 16th Round-table Conference of Managing Directors of PMAWCA, in Douala in the Central African country of Cameroon, the NPA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, informed the delegates that a’’ lot of work has gone into the smart port transformation agenda of the Authority, aimed at the enthronement of a paperless, time saving and cost efficient port operations’’.
Bello-Koko, the NPA acting Managing Director, who was represented by Idris Abubakar, a Professor and Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services at the Meeting, had said that the Authority first deployed a main computer system in 1975 to improve its payroll management, billing, statistical and accounting systems.
Going down the memory lane, he stated that from 1992, the deployment of personal computers was done at each port location to ease data management, but lamented that information sharing still remain very difficult as there was no connectivity between the ports.
He stated further that in 2011 the Authority reviewed its ICT strategy in line with its new role as landlord, following the concession of port terminals in 2006. ‘’The primary focus of the new strategy is on enterprise computing and heavy dependence on network infrastructure, along with a centralised and shared database’’, he had said.
The NPA acting Managing Director, who could not hide his feelings asserted that ‘’the adoption by the Authority of a phased ‘’ICT deployment is geared towards achieving a fully integrated port operating system, to foster relationship with all internal and external stakeholders, to streamline NPA’s internal business processes; to make use of high-end smart technologies; as well as to record, monitor and utilize data for better decision making’’ .
The Value News learnt that a ‘’ five year plan is now being implemented by the Federal ministry of Transport agency, for the attainment of a fully digitalised port system in Nigeria. The Authority was said ‘’to have deployed a portfolio of systems and infrastructure towards the actualisation of its ICT objectives’’. These include Oracle Enterprise Business Suite for financial and human resources planning, Billing/Revenue and Invoice Management System ,RIMS, to fast-track billing processing, Customer Portal/electronic Ship Entry Notice,eSEN, /Manifest Upload for shipping traffic management, Hyperion Budgeting for management of annual budget,Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence System ,3Ci, for maritime domain awareness and management of vessel calls, Truck Call Up and Gate Access Control for the control and schedule of trucks to the ports as well as manage truck traffic around the port corridor.
With the international supply chain faced with several disruptions, the NPA boss said ‘’the Authority intends to focus on the smartness level of the port than the size of the port in order to optimize productivity and meet the expectations of port users’’. According to him, the goal is of the Authority is ‘’to leverage on the Information Communication Technology, to close the gap between the Nigerian ports and the major global ports. He maintains that a digitalized port’’ helps in making a better informed operational decisions, increased efficiency, improved collaboration amongst stakeholders, lower port costs and ultimately help to meet the ever increasing customer expectations in a timely manner”.
Micheal Luguje, Director General of Ghana ports and President of PMAWCA, in his Welcome Address, had described the conference theme; “Digitalised Port as a model of Port Efficiency”, “as very relevant because more than ever,as the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, has indeed made Africans to know that’’ we live in a very fragile world’’. Within a space of time, the dynamics with regards to world trade and our ways of life can change dramatically, he remarked.
The impact of the Pandemic, he had said, cannot be swept under the carpet so easily as ‘’ countries are now rebuilding again after many years of economic progress that has been wiped off’’. He noted that as leaders in the maritime sector, in their respective countries in the African Continent, entrusted with the responsibilities of facilitating trade and economic progress, ‘’we are here to have serious discussion on how we can continue to adjust in the face of this unwavering virus and how to plan and operate our ports to meet future challenges’’. He reiterated that ‘’the main aim is to explore diverse ways of using less to achieve more through the use of smart technologies”.
The PMAWCA 41st Council Meeting was said to have been declared opened by Massena Ngalle Bibe the Cameroon, minister of Transport, amidst Cheers, from delegates. The Roundtable Conference was chaired by Cyrus Ngo’o, Director General, Port Of Doula.
The event, was said to have attracted heads of PMAWCA member ports and other relevant organisations, including the International Association for Ports and Harbours, IAPH, the United Nations Maritime Agency, International Maritime Organisation ,IMO and Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa ,MOWCA, Union of African Shippers Council and Abuja MoU.