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NPA raises concern over neglect of hinterland connectivity for $1.5bn Lekki Port

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By Seun Ibiyemi

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko on Thursday expressed concerns over neglect of hinterland connectivity for the $1.5bn Lekki Deep Seaport.

This is even as the NPA MD dispelled fears in some quarters that the Lekki port will render existing ports in Apapa and Tin-Can moribund.

Presenting a paper titled; “Lekki Deep Seaport: Gains, Challenges and Potential Threat To Lagos Port” during the 2022 One Day Retreat organised by the League of Maritime Editors in Lagos on Thursday, Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko explained that the neglect of hinterland connectivity at the Lekki Port is likely to be an albatross for the optimisation of the benefits of the project investment as well as efficiency of the port operations.

According to the NPA Managing Director, “With the immense benefits that Lekki Deep-sea port is poised to offer in changing the landscape of port operations, there are the constraints of hinterland connectivity.

“This is considered a fundamental flaw of the planning process. It is important to note that the port is segmented into two: there is the aspect of maritime space and Hinterland Connectivity for cargo evacuation.

“While attention has been on maritime space, there is complete neglect of hinterland connectivity at Lekki port. This is likely to be an albatross for the optimisation of the benefits of the project investment as well as the efficiency of the port operations.

“For instance, there is no rail connectivity at Lekki port. Even the road connection is grossly inadequate. The only way out is to embrace Barge operations in the short run. This does not foreclose the need for multi-modalism and inter-modalism that should guarantee the fluidity of cargo evacuation and ultimately efficiency of port operations.

“There is no doubt that operationalisation of Lekki Port would be a game changer not only for NPAs’ operations but Nigerian economy at large. It is therefore important that necessary logistics infrastructure be put in place to optimise the benefits and guarantee positive impacts.

“It may be necessary for the NPA management to create requisite synergy with relevant bodies towards addressing observable operational constraints. It would equally be necessary to engage in advocacy to sensitise various stakeholders in their respective roles in actualising the provision of these critical infrastructures.”

On whether the Lekki Port may signal the demise of existing ports in Apapa and Tin-Can, Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko explained that the existing river ports will function as feeder ports to what comes from Lekki Port.

“There seems to be morbid fear by stakeholders that the emergence of Lekki Deep-sea port may signal the death or possibly turn the existing ports in the Lagos area into tourist sites.

“This is simply a fallacy. The Deep-sea port operates by the principle of Hub and Spoke. As a derivative of this, the existing port will simply function as a Feeder port i.e when big vessels call at Lekki, other ports would be fed with their own market share. In other words, the existing port would function as a regional port to serve destination cargo of their catchment area,” the NPA Boss added.

Also speaking on the nature of the inadequate road leading to Lekki port, the Spokesman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mr. Bolaji Akinola revealed that it takes six hours to drive to and from Ikoyi and Ibeju-Lekki even when the Lekki port is yet to commence operations.

In the words of Mr. Bolaji Akinola, “The Lekki port without rail evacuation is a disaster in waiting for traffic operations along the Lekki-Epe expressway. I go to the Pan Atlantic University (PAU) in Ibeju-Lekki from Ikoyi once a week. Every time I go towards that axis, I spend three hours on the road, stuck in traffic, going to Lekki, and another three hours coming from Lekki to Ikoyi.

“This is currently the situation even when we don’t have large numbers of trucks on that road because Lekki Port has not commenced operations. By the time Lekki Port commences operations and about a thousand trucks besiege Lekki roads, traffic along that corridor will be a disaster.

“Unless cargoes are evacuated through other means like barges, the commencement of Lekki port which will invite large numbers of trucks to that corridor will lead to another traffic gridlock along that axis.”

Also present at the One Day Retreat organised by the League of Maritime Editors includes Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Alli ably represented by Customs Zonal Coordinator for Zone A, ACG Adeyanju Aremu; Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh ably represented by the agency’s Director of Special Duties, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi; and acting Controller of Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu.

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NCC pledges support to Meta on digital economy initiatives

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By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

The Nigerian Communi cations Commission (NCC) has pledged its readiness to support digital economic initiatives of investors, including Meta (formerly Facebook), that align with Nigeria’s vision for a robust digital economy.

During a visit to the NCC’s headquarters in Abuja, a delegation from Meta, led by Kojo Boakye, the company’s Vice President for Africa, the Middle-East, and Turkey, met with Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The NCC EVC emphasised the importance of compliance with industry laws, regulations, and guidelines for creating a level-playing field that encourages healthy competition and sustainable growth in the Nigerian telecoms sector.

Boakye congratulating Dr. Maida on his appointment, shared Meta’s ongoing efforts to land the 2Africa submarine cable in Nigeria.

According to Boakye, “The 45,000-kilometer-long cable, scheduled to go live in 2023, will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects, interconnecting Europe (via Egypt), Asia (via Saudi Arabia), and Africa.

“With a design capacity of up to 180 terabytes per second (Tbps), the 2Africa cable aims to deliver much-needed Internet capacity and reliability across Africa, supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access.”

Boakye sought NCC’s support in navigating legal and regulatory processes for the cable’s landing in Nigeria, emphasising the positive impact it will have on connectivity and affordability.

The Meta delegation also outlined plans to simultaneously land the 2Africa cable in Lagos and Akwa-Ibom States through a consortium.

Boakye emphasised that this approach aims to connect those currently without access while enhancing and providing affordable access for those already connected.

Responding, Dr. Maida assured Meta of NCC’s commitment to supporting initiatives that align with Nigeria’s digital economy agenda and welcomed the potential benefits the 2Africa cable could bring to the country’s telecommunications landscape.

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NPA, Intels agree to new terms, commission on pilotage reduced to 24.5%

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Following an interim injunction by the Federal High Court in Lagos to prevent the termination of Intels’ role as a managing agent in various pilotage districts and a presidential directive to extend the boat operation contract of Intels, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Intels have agreed to new terms.

The new terms which include the reduction of the agency commission on pilotage collections from 28 percent to a lower commission of 24.5 percent, among others are contained in a statement by NPA titled, “Setting the Record Straight in Respect of Service Boat Monitoring Operation in Nigerian Ports Authority: Reinstatement of INTELS Nigeria Limited as Management Agent.”

Aside from the reduction of the agency commission on pilotage collections from 28 percent to a lower commission of 24.5 percent, both parties also agreed that all revenues collected by the logistic company must be paid into the designated Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the NPA at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Furthermore, both parties agreed to a waiver of the sum of $100,000,000 part of the accrued interest as of 31 July, 2023 on the indebtedness to Deep Offshore Services Limited under the Phase 4B Agreement.

In addition, there’s an agreement to a further waiver of the interest which shall accrue on the outstanding debt under the Phase 4B Agreement for two years commencing on 1 July 2023, and ending on 30 June 2025, which is currently estimated in the sum of US$93,317,556.

There is a reduction of the interest rate on the indebtedness to Deep Offshore Services Limited from six-month LIBOR rate + 6.5 percent to 6-months SOFR rate + 3 percent effective from the date of execution of the supplemental agreement.

“The Authority will be saving a total sum of $ 326,895,226 as a result of a waiver of a part of accrued interest and reduction of interest rate from 6.5 percent to 3 percent on the debt over the next 15 years,” a part of the reinstatement statement read.

NPA further said that, “The proposed spread of the debt of $522,433,453.25 to be paid back over 15 years will, of itself, earn for the Authority a huge benefit in terms of preservation of funds to meet its other operational needs over the period.”

NPA, however, admitted that the legal impasse created by the dispute with Intels and Deep Offshore Services Nigeria Limited caused the federal government to lose enormous revenue in the period it took over the management of pilotage.

“After the expiration of the Service Boat Management Agreement, the Authority took over the performance of the service through various Departments and Divisions.

“However, due to the constraint of not having the requisite technology to monitor the operations, the expected revenue dwindled and it resulted in the drastic reduction of revenue generation for the Authority.

“An analysis of its impact on the authority’s revenue showed a sharp decline from $216 million and $209 million in 2014 and 2015 respectively under the INTELS agency to $130 million and $99 million in 2020 and 2021, respectively, after taking over by NPA.

“The situation in 2023 is even worse as the collection up to June 2023 was only $55.3 million,” the statement revealed.

The Federal Government, through the NPA, in September 2020, announced the termination of Intels’ boar contract before the expiration of the Service Boat Monitoring Agreement.

The NPA then commenced the procurement process for the engagement of service boat operations monitoring agents. Four companies, comprising Pacific Silverline Limited, Nexttee Oil and Gas Trading Company Nigeria Limited, ICA Logistics Limited, and Ishasha Investments Limited submitted bids for consideration by the Parastatal Tenders Board of the authority.

However, INTELS Nigeria Limited and Deep Offshore Services Limited instituted a suit no FHC/CS/L/1058/2020 at the Federal High Court, Lagos against the Authority seeking orders of the Court to restrain the authority from engaging new Service Providers to carry out the monitoring of Service Boat Operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

Shortly after the opening of the bids, Intels and Deep Offshore Services Limited instituted a suit no FHC/CS/L/1058/2020 at the Federal High Court, Lagos preventing the termination of Intels’ role as a managing agent in various Pilotage Districts, pending the resolution of arbitration proceedings.

The Federal High Court, Lagos on 24th July 2020, granted an Interim Injunction that restricted NPA from giving effect to the Public Notice calling for Expression of Interest for the provision of the Service Boat Operation from interested entities.

The procurement process was subsequently put on hold based on the advice from the Federal Ministry of Transportation that the authority should comply with the orders of the court.

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COP28: We are taking action to slash methane emission — World Bank

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The World Bank President, Ajay Banga, says the Bank is taking action to decisively slash methane emissions to help increase agricultural yields and improve health outcomes.

Banga said this in his address at a High-Level Segment Summit on Methane at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, a copy of which was obtained on Sunday.

He said Methane was 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the planet, making it a major driver of climate change.

“Yet, it is often subjugated to carbon dioxide, receiving less than two per cent of global climate financing. We do this at our peril.

“The good news is not all solutions require a herculean effort or a trillion-dollar price tag. Sometimes, the most impactful changes stem from our willingness to embrace the solutions that are well within our grasp.

“The frontier of methane reduction is one such area where the World Bank believes there are answers at our fingertips.

“That is why the World Bank is taking action, scaling proven and urgently needed strategies that can decisively bend the methane emission curve.”

The president said over the next 18 months, as part of a blueprint for methane reduction, the bank would help inaugurate15 national programmes that aim to slash methane emissions.

Banga said these programmes were built upon successful pilots that delivered transformative results for rice production, livestock operations, and waste management.

He said in Vietnam, rice farmers were embracing new techniques that slash methane emissions, while increasing incomes.

Banga said animal nutrition and breed management in India cut methane emissions and dramatically increased milk production.

“Simply separating organic waste in landfills in Brazil cuts nearly all the methane emissions by diverting it to provide electricity to 200,000 households.

“By deploying proven reduction methods from our blueprint, methane emissions from rice production can be reduced by up to 40 per cent, from livestock by 30 per cent, and waste by 80 per cent. The potential is huge.

“Taken together, this methane reduction blueprint could slash up to 10 million tons of methane.”

He said while these efforts would make considerable progress toward the methane goal, it would not be enough if simple and effective solutions for the emissions from the power sector were not embraced.

“That is why the World Bank has been working with Germany, Norway, the United States, and the UAE alongside the private sector to expand our long-standing efforts to significantly cut methane emissions across the whole energy value chain.”

Banga said in the fight against climate change, too often genuine impact was impeded by intractable challenges, considerable expenses, political challenges, and underdeveloped technologies.

“Methane is one rare, clear area where we know there are low-cost remedies, effective and simple solutions that can be replicated and scaled.

“But hope is not a strategy. We must act, and in doing so we can reduce emissions, enhance agricultural yields, and improve health outcomes all in one go.

“This is one shot that we should not miss,” he said.

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