The Aviacargo Roadmap Committee will work with the Nigeria Customs Service to eliminate the barriers to Aviacargo exports in the country.
The committee, led by Mr Ikechi Uko, made the announcement during a recent visit to the Lilypond Nigeria Customs Area Command headquarters in Apapa, Lagos.
Uko believes that Nigeria, as Africa’s largest agricultural producer, has the potential to become the continent’s major Aviacargo centre.
He, however, noted that some impediments had been preventing the country from taking its leadership position in agro-export.
He said, “Nigeria doesn’t export much. In Aviacargo Nigeria is number five. Number one is Kenya; number two is Egypt; number three is South Africa, and four is Ethiopia. Lagos airport is number five despite the fact that we are number one in population, number one in the economy and we have the largest number of travellers.
“To get Nigeria from five to number one is not something that can be done overnight. We need to find out what others did. The Lagos economy is bigger than the economy of Kenya. The population of the three states is larger than Kenya; the airport in Kenya is not as big as any of our airports. Their airline is not the best in Africa and why is Kenya doing better than everyone else? We found out that they have a roadmap. They have a strategy plan and they are implementing it.”
According to Uko, the idea of setting up the committee is to make Nigeria a hub in Aviacargo, Kenya ranks first in Aviacargo among African countries while Nigeria is fifth.
He questioned why Nigeria, which is the largest producer of agro-produce, is not leading in this aspect.
He said, “So, we decided to ask ourselves, why are we not number one in cargo export? We found out there are challenges everywhere. I organised a cargo conference called Chinet for Aviacargo and FAAN decided that we should do a roadmap to find out how to make Nigeria number one. The idea is to make Nigeria a hub in cargo. Even if we are importing, let’s make money from both import and export.”
Identifying some of the challenges bedevilling the country’s agro-export, Uko, said, “The packaging is poor. The quality is poor and those that are time-bound arrived when the goods are dried and expired. So, part of why the committee was set up is to solve this problem. In setting up the committee, we invited the agencies involved in the process.”
Responding, the Comptroller Customs Area Command, Lilypond, Apapa, Mohammed Babandede, said, when he took office in November 2022, there were challenges of rejection of Nigeria goods, delay and cancellation of contracts.
According to him, he and his team were mandated by the then CGC to ensure all bottlenecks and stumbling blocks were done away with and these they have achieved.
The result, he said, was the $200m revenue they generated in the first quarter of the year 2023.
He assured it would continue to increase if they continue to up their game in the service.
He said, “For example, your hibiscus flower from Kano cannot get to Lagos within five days because from Ogere, it will take 3-4 days to get to Apapa or Tincan and by then this produce would have gone bad. And when it gets to its destination, it will be rejected. Why? It is because the roads are congested.”