BY Okezie Nnadi
The Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko has once again reiterated that deliberate measures and investments are being undertaken the NPA to create a fully digital ecosystem in all the country’s port locations by 2025.
The NPA boss in a presentation on Authority’s “Digitalization 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 – Cameroon, told the delegates that a lot of work has gone into the smart port transformation agenda of the Authority aimed at enthronement of a paperless, time saving and cost efficient port operations.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, who was represented by the Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Prof. Idris Abubakar disclosed that the NPA first deployed a main computer system in 1975 to improve its payroll management, billing, statistical and accounting systems. From 1992, the deployment of personal computers was done at each port location to ease data management, and information sharing was difficult as there was no connectivity between the ports.
Speaking further, he said 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 he informed, is on enterprise computing and heavy dependence on network infrastructure, along with a centralised and shared database.
The adoption by NPA 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.
A five year plan is now being implemented by the Authority for the attainment of a fully digitalised port system in Nigeria.
“So far, the Authority has deployed a portfolio of systems and infrastructure towards the actualization of its ICT objectives”, he said. 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 MD 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, “At NPA our goal is to leverage on technology to close the gap between us and the major international ports. A digitalized port helps in making better informed operational decisions, increased efficiency, improve collaboration amongst stakeholders, lower port costs and ultimately help to meet the ever increasing customer expectations in a timely manner.”
In his welcome message, President of PMAWCA and Director General of Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA), Mr. Micheal Luguje, described the conference theme; “Digitalized Port as a model of Port Efficiency”, as “very relevant because more than ever, Covid-19 has indeed thought us 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.
“The impact of Covid-19 cannot be swept under the carpet so easily. Countries are now rebuilding again after many years of economic progress has been wiped off. As leaders in the maritime field entrusted with the responsibilities of facilitating trade and economic progress for our respective countries, 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.
The main aim he stated, is to explore diverse ways of using less to achieve more through the use of smart technologies”, he said.
The PMAWCA 41st Council Meeting was declared opened by the Minister of Transport for Cameroon, Mr. Massena Ngalle Bibehe. The Roundtable Conference was chaired by the Director General, Port of Douala, Mr. Cyrus Ngo’o. The event attracted heads of PMAWCA member ports and sister organizations that include International Association for Ports and Harbours (IAPH,) International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA), Union of African Shippers Council and Abuja MoU.