African Ports Urged To Promote Use Of ICDs To Aid Hinterland Connectivity

Participants at the First African Regional Conference of the International Association Of Ports and Harbours (IAPH), which ended in Abuja yesterday have urged port operators in Africa to embrace the use of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) and off-dock facilities  to promote hinterland connectivity.

Participants at the conference were from African countries and some international maritime organisations and continental bodies.  The theme of the conference is “African Ports & Hinterland Connectivity”.

Citing a case study of the successes recorded between  Dakar Port  in Senegal and Bamako Port in Mali, the participants called for incentives and prioritization of services rendered to dry ports to create volume traffic.

They also noted that ports are strategic national assets and that there is need for investments in port and evacuation infrastructure to facilitate hinterland connectivity.

They also submitted that, “for economies to grow in the right direction, there is need for investments connectivity for economic growth, expansion and integration should be viewed from the perspective of domestic, sub-regional, continental and international trade domain”.

According to the participants, “to overcome the cumbersome and difficult experiences on intra-Africa trade route occasioned by heavy infrastructural deficit and unfriendly border post procedures; there is need for Ministerial/ inter-Government collaborations across sub and regional levels”.

They also harped on the need for countries to embrace intermodalism for cargo evacuation from the ports. “There is need to develop sustainable multi-modal transport linkages with emphasis on rail, inland waterways and pipeline infrastructure”, the communiqué added.

The conference also called for the introduction and strengthening of private sector participation (PPP) to improve dilapidated port infrastructure and efficiency in port operations.

They also called on African ports to partner and look into possibilities of  developing regional deep-sea ports, just as they submitted that there is “need for cooperation and synergy between littoral ports and dry ports in the African region to improve hinterland connectivity”

According to the communiqué, in the area of funding, African port service providers “are encouraged to form viable consortiums to provide the required size for credit guarantees”

It also added that “African countries need to leverage on the support platforms provided by international bodies such as the IMO, WTO, UNCTAD, ACMA and others to build technical, financial and operational competence and capacity to raise standards and efficiency levels”.