- WACT Lifts Onne Port With $10m Facility Upgrade
The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) yesterday launched two new Mobile Harbour Cranes (MHCs) $10 million (about N3.6 billion) for the discharge of cargoes at the terminal.
The Mobile Harbour Cranes (MHCs), which is coming on the heels of 10 specialised terminal trucks and two new reach stackers, are expected to increase the turnaround time of vessels at the terminal.
The two new container cargoes handling facilities would bring WACT, one of the most efficient container terminals outside Lagos, at par with its peers in Apapa, and Tin Can Island Ports, in terms of equipment and operational efficiency.
Speaking at the inauguration in Onne, Rivers State, the Managing Director, WACT, Aamir Mirza, said the massive investment at the terminal has attracted 700 direct and 2000 indirect employment in the country.
He said the company has recorded tremendous growth of 17 per cent in 2017, 21 per cent growth in 2018 and 20 per cent growth attained so far this year.
Mizra described the $10 million investment as a key enabler to customers’ satisfaction.
“Our vision is to make WACT the best performing container terminal in West Africa. We believe this vision can be realised early enough if the government can support us to reduce the challenges of security by ensuring the safety of vessels on our waters and improve road connectivity, among others,” he said.
Mirza said the cranes would enable volume growth resulting in increased productivity; reduced port stay and provide bunker savings; improve reliability in cargo delivery times; reduce the impact of crane breakdown/idle time on overall terminal operations, and increase customers satisfaction and speedy delivery.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, said the new cranes will aid efficiency and improve vessels turn around time at the terminal
He reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to encouraging more importers to patronise Onne Port, adding that government is determined to see shipping make significant contributions to the economy.
He said: “Our terminals need to grow and show efficiency. I am happy with the competition because this is how to compete. We need options, the choice for shippers where they will discharge their cargoes.
“The commissioning of these Mobiles Harbour Cranes is no doubt significant because it will improve efficiency. We are happy with the 30 per cent increase in volumes of cargoes and the long run, more Nigerians would be employed and it will make the terminal operation contribute to the economy.
“The more efficiency we have, the more cargoes we will get because Nigeria is a natural harbour due to the available market and I am happy today that this terminal is becoming one of the most efficient we have in West Africa and this is gladdening our hearts, and the main reasons for concessioning the port to the private sector will be realised by this terminal and we will use this terminal to benchmark the performance of other terminals.”
The Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), Umana Okon Umana, lauded WACT for making the nation meet the objectives of establishing the free zone.
He promised to run the free zone professionally and assured of the provision of dedicated power to the zone for efficient service delivery.
He said: “For us, the fact that WACT is expanding their operation is a show of confidence they have in the economy and confidence they have in Nigeria and the MD said they have sent Nigerians out for training because this is very specialised equipment and as we know; the objectives of free zones is to attract FDI that will support job creation, support transfer of skills and technology and what government loses by tax revenues, government takes back in employment, skills and transfer of skills.”
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, lauded the company for acquiring the new cranes, even as she urged shippers to patronise Onne Port.
Usman, who was represented by the Onne Port Manager, Al-Hassan Ismaila, said the government is looking into the security of vessels on the nation’s high sea.
“The Onne Port is a nexus to connecting the North-East, North-Central, South-South and South-East, so cargoes for this section of the country is expected to be discharged through this port.
“We are calling on shippers to patronise Onne Port because of the friendly environment, and the synergy between the agencies of government operating at the port,” she added.
The ceremony was witnessed by several stakeholders, including the representatives of shipping companies, Customs, freight forwarders, truck operators, importers, exporters and government agencies.
Amazon To Open African Headquarters In South Africa
US retail giant, Amazon has announced that it would be opening its first African office in South Africa with a real estate investment of over R4 billion. This announcement is coming a week after Twitter choose to open its first African office in Ghana.
Authorities in Cape Town noted that Amazon would be occupying a new development in River Club, a prime section of the city. This new development will create 5,239 jobs in the construction phase alone. Along with 19,000 indirect and induced jobs.
The 15-hectare parcel of land will cost R4 billion and include two precincts. Authorities said the first precinct of 60,000sqm would occupy different layers of development, while the second section of 70,000 will hold Amazon headquarters in Africa.
“US retail giant, Amazon, will be the anchor tenant, opening a base of operations on the African continent. The development is envisaged to take place in phases, with construction set to take place over three to five years.
It is clear that this development offers many economic, social, and environmental benefits for the area. We are committed to driving investment to revitalize the economy, which is slowly recovering following the impact of Covid-19.” This was affirmed by Cape town city officials.
Earlier last week, Techcrunch had reported that Amazon announced the opening of Amazon Salon, the retailer’s first hair salon and a place where Amazon aims to test new technologies with the general public.
Amazon has had its web engineering giant AWS in South Africa for years, but its main e-commerce services have not been available anywhere on the continent.
This announcement came a week after Twitter announced the decision to set up its first African office and headquarters in Accra Ghana. Twitter claimed that Ghana’s democratic and economic strides made the West African country a highly competitive destination over Nigeria and other countries.
It was unclear whether Amazon considered Nigeria and similar parameters as Twitter while deciding its African base.
Dangote Commits $700M To Sugar Production In Support of Backward Integration Policy
The management of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has said it is committing over $700m to its sugar projects to support the Backward Integration Policy of the Federal Government to make Nigeria self-sufficient in sugar production.
According to a statement issued on Sunday by Dangote Industries Limited, the company disclosed this to visiting members of the Nasarawa House of Assembly on Friday.
The company noted that Nigeria was one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest importers of sugar, second only to South Africa with an annual import of over $337m.
The Dangote Sugar management however assured the lawmakers that with the completion of its sugar projects in Nasarawa and Adamawa under the BIP, the nation would be saved more than half of the forex expended on sugar imports annually.
It added that the investment would also lift its people as other people-oriented infrastructures would come with the sugar projects.
The state lawmakers commended the Dangote Group for the choice of the state for the project and the accelerated pace with which the project was being executed, despite occasional delays arising from communal disagreements.
General Manager for the BIP, Dangote Sugar, John Beverley said when the factory was fully operational, it would have the capacity to crush 12,000 tons of cane per day, while 90MW power would be generated for both the company’s use and host communities.
He also disclosed that some 500km roads in all would be constructed to ease transportation within the vicinity. He solicited the support of the lawmakers in controlling the menace of land encroachment by settlers and itinerant farmers.
The Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Abdullah, and his team members, who were conducted around the company’s 78,000 hectares BIP in Tunga Awe Local Government Area commended the company for the project.
Abdullah noted that it would not only open up opportunities in the state but in Africa as a whole, and said the lawmakers were ready to partner and support the company towards the realisation of the sugar project through the relevant legislation.
When phase II of the project is completed, according to the company, it will make it the largest sugar refining plant in Africa.
French Trade Advisors pledge Massive Investment In Lagos Free Zone
The Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur (French Foreign Trade Advisors) has expressed readiness to invest massively in the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) being developed by the Tolaram Group as they endorsed the zone as the ideal industrial destination for French businesses in Nigeria.
This was made known on Thursday, April 15, 2021, during a visit to the Lagos Free Zone. The delegation led by the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier accompanied by his Economic Advisor, the Consulate General of France in Lagos and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur comprising of CEOs of several French businesses in Nigeria.
Speaking during the visit, the Ambassador of France in Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier explained that the aim of the visit of the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur to Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) was to discover the opportunities in the Lagos Free Zone and the Lekki Port project, which is expected to have a huge positive impact on businesses in Nigeria.
Pasquier commended Tolaram Group, the promoter of the zone, for the foresight of integration of Lekki Port into the master plan of the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), which would serve as the gateway for import and export from the zone thereby giving businesses in the zone a competitive edge.
The Ambassador also commended the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) for its Master Plan for the zone which includes world-class infrastructure that is in line with its vision to be the preferred industrial hub and investment destination in West Africa.
“I am impressed by the huge size of the Lagos Free Zone project. We are very happy that the French companies will be deeply involved in this Lagos Free Zone project. It is really impressive to see how ambitious this project is. The French Minister was in Nigeria yesterday and I explained to him that Nigeria is a country where we can have big projects. For us, this project means big opportunities and that explains why we need to be here. We are happy to be here and work with Tolaram Group”, he added.
It is noteworthy to mention that the first French company to be established in the Lagos Free Zone is the terminal operations arm of CMA – CGM which has established a subsidiary within the Lagos Free Zone and is the appointed operator for the container terminal operations scheduled to commence at Lekki Port next year.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), Mr. Dinesh Rathi assured the Ambassador of France and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur that the zone remains the best destination for investment in Nigeria and the West African sub-region given the seamless integration with Lekki Port and the world-class infrastructure provided by Lagos Free Zone.
Explaining the configuration of the zone, Rathi disclosed that the clustering is planned in line with the international best practices of Work, Live, and Play. He stated that the land-use plan of the Lagos Free Zone allocates 70 percent area towards industrial developments, 20 percent towards logistics and support services while the real estate will cover the remaining 10 percent.
He also stated that Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) has simplified the process of business entry and operation in the zone in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business policy.
“We have made it very easy for the business to berth and take off at zone by making our process less cumbersome and friendly, we are open for business 24/7 and willing to help investors to settle in very fast,” he said.
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