West African countries will later this month meet in Lagos to chart path to integrated ports, road and rail transport sector, with new investments in excess of $57 billion for the region.
The new cooperation, which is the central focus of the West African Ports and Rail Evolution Event (WA-PoRa) holding in Lagos, is in lieu of emerging needs and opportunities from economic integration in the region. Experts, at a roundtable meeting yesterday, were unanimous that the West African transportation corridor is arguably the least integrated passage in the world, despite enormous opportunities that abound. With a teeming population of well over 390 million and high economic growth index in some of the countries, there is now a greater impetus on the part of governments of the ECOWAS States to help speed up and sustain economic growth through a regional integration transport policy to link West African cities and states together via ports, rail and road.
Managing Director, Grolla Port Services, Graham Lawal, said the West African trade is booming, as more shipping lines are finding their way to the ports. More so, this has led to huge expansion projects and plans to build new terminals all over the region. “But in order to unlock the West African hinterland, ports and rail authorities are working together to set up new logistics infrastructure where investment figures of single projects in the sector go up to $10 billion. “With 50 per cent of ports and terminal operators wanting to expand their port facilities and over $57 billion worth of infrastructure projects being rolled out for the region, all eyes are on West Africa to make it a more integrated transport corridor as it is with its Southern African neighbours, and as it sits on the cusp of an infrastructure boom,” Lawal said.
He said further that there is no better time than now to put the limelight on Nigeria and the West African neighbours to discuss opportunities in the sector at the upcoming West African Ports and Rail Evolution, taking place in Lagos on July 22 and 23. Portfolio Director for Transport, DMG events South Africa, Daniel Bloch, noted that the West Africa has a lot to learn from the Southern region, especially countries like South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia, among others.