Nigerian ports go full digital by 2025 – Bello-Koko

  • RoRo Port – one of the facilities to become fully digital by 2025

By Anthony Nwachukwu

Towards the achievement of smart ports, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has begun deliberate investments for a fully digital ecosystem across the country by 2025.

Ag. Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, disclosed this in Douala, Cameroun, during 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 his presentation on “Digitalisation Roadmap and Current Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Implementation Status,” Bello-Koko stressed that as the international supply chain battles several disruptions, the agency would focus on port smartness level than its size, in order to optimise productivity and meet users’ expectations.

“At NPA, our goal is to leverage on technology to close the gap between us and the major international ports,” a statement by the Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Ibrahim Nasiru, quoted him to say.

“A digitalised port helps in making better informed operational decisions, increase efficiency, improve collaboration among stakeholders, lower port costs and ultimately help to meet the ever increasing customer expectations in a timely manner.”

The AG. MD, who was represented at the forum by the Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Prof. Idris Abubakar, disclosed that the NPA was currently implementing a five-year plan for a fully digitalised port system in Nigeria, and has so far deployed a portfolio of systems and infrastructure towards the actualisation of its ICT objectives.

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, and Hyperion Budgeting for management of annual budget.

Others are the 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 scheduling of trucks to the ports as well as to manage truck traffic around the port corridor.

Should the target be actuallised on set date, it would be exactly 50 years after Nigeria first deployed a main computer system (in 1975) to improve its payroll management, billing, statistical and accounting systems.

He noted that since 1975, when NPA first deployed a main computer system to improve its payroll management, billing, statistical and accounting systems, a lot of work has gone into its smart port transformation agenda aimed at bringing about a paperless, time-saving and cost-efficient port operations.

From 1992, the deployment of personal computers was done at each port location to ease data management, while information sharing remained difficult due to the absence of connectivity between the ports, he added.

In 2011, however, the agency reviewed its ICT strategy in line with its new role as landlord, following the concession of port terminals in 2006, with focus on enterprise computing and heavy dependence on network infrastructure, along with a centralised and shared database.

Its adoption of a phased ICT deployment is geared towards achieving a fully integrated port operating system to foster relationship with all internal and external stakeholders, streamline NPA’s internal business processes, use high-end smart technologies, as well as record, monitor and utilise data for better decision making.

President of PMAWCA and Director-General of Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA), Mr. Michael Luguje, had in his address earlier described the conference theme, “Digitalised 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 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 for 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 is to explore diverse ways of using less to achieve more through the use of smart technologies.”

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