- Former President, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun (left), Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, President, Nigerian Maritime Law Association, Funke Agbor, Executive Director, ENL Consortium, Mark Walsh, and Chief Financial Officer, APM Terminals Apapa, Courage Obadagbonyi, at the Nigerian International Maritime Summit 2022 in Lagos
By Anthony Nwachukwu
To make the country’s maritime sector more attractive to investments, the Chief Financial Officer of APM Terminals Nigeria, Courage Obadagbonyi, has urged the Federal Government to replicate some of the tax programmes operating in the other sectors of the economy.
Obadagbonyi, who was a panellist at a session on “Financing Maritime Assets – Ports and Shipyards” during the just concluded Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) 2022, said he believes that “funding of viable infrastructural projects is not a problem in terms of availability of cash.
He recommended that such tax laws like the Infrastructure and Roads Tax Credit Programme, which MTN and Dangote have used to successfully build hundreds of kilometres of roads and bridges across the country, could also be replicated in the ports sector, which is presently suffering major dilapidation.
“There is a lot of private equity and multilateral funding available if the projects are well positioned and investors have a line of sight to their payback,” he said.
“I think what we need to do is publicity and sell these projects to the right individuals with the right pockets. There are incentives that are available to investors in Nigeria.”
He added: “I think, with more publicity and engagement with private stakeholders, a lot of some of these challenges bedevilling us with investing in port infrastructure can be fixed. For instance, we have great tax laws that incentivise investment in this country.
“Things like pioneer legislation, Infrastructure and Roads Tax Credit Programme, which companies like MTN and Dangote have used to successfully build hundreds of kilometres of roads and bridges across the country, can also be replicated in the ports.
We also have great capital allowance provisions that encourage investors.”
He urged the Federal Government to embark on a massive awareness campaign to further attract private capital to the nation’s seaports, stating that based on the latest data by the Debt Management Office, the country’s debt profile currently stands at N42 trillion, which is about four times the country’s total budget per annum.
According to him, this makes the cost of borrowing more expensive, therefore Nigeria needs to find creative ways of pulling private sector participation in port rehabilitation instead of depending on government funding through borrowing.
In his address at the NIMS 2022, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, had stressed the importance of sustainable financing models to building critical maritime assets such as shipyards and ports across the country, while restating Nigeria’s commitment to the sustaining the blue economy.
APM Terminals Apapa, the largest container terminal operator in Nigeria, has invested over $438 million at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, in developing infrastructure, acquiring equipment and improving processes at the terminal.
The terminal has also been at the forefront of digitisation of port operations in Nigeria in line with its commitment to introducing new innovations to help both shipping lines and landside customers achieve improved supply chain efficiency and flexibility in a cost-effective manner.