NOTICE: PORT TECHNOLOGY IN NIGERIA: AUTOMATION IS THE KEY
The importance of the maritime sector in the socio-economic development and development of any nation is very crucial. According to figures from the World Trade Organization (WTO), seaports are currently one of the most important logistics centers as more than 80% of the world’s freight is transported by this method. Therefore, if the maritime sector is well exploited and the ports are efficient, it will remain crucial for the generation of non-oil revenue and the most cardinal factor for the growth and economic development of the country. More importantly, it will boost investment, attract more entrepreneurs and business owners. However, a recent review of the situation in Nigerian ports indicates that much of the infrastructure, especially the roads, is in a state of desperation and the resulting effect is congestion in the ports.
This huge problem is currently having a huge negative impact on operational performance and port efficiency. In addition, the government and port users, especially business owners and entrepreneurs, continue to lose revenue due to the inefficiency of these ports. In addition, inefficiencies in ports continue to negatively impact port users and surrounding areas. In fact, on the part of the government, the Organized Private Sector (OPS), recently admitted that the permanent stalemate in the ports of Apapa and surrounding areas in Lagos State was causing the federal government to lose nothing less than 6 Trillion naira per year in all sectors of the economy. To corroborate this claim, Mr. Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, once said that as much as 20 billion naira are lost daily due to the deplorable state of the road from the ports of Apapa. in Lagos State, just.
Therefore, to change this disturbing narrative, an appropriate policy framework, regulations and huge investments in infrastructure are needed, to turn ports into catalytic poles for revenue generation and industrial growth. For Nigerian ports, especially Apapa ports, to function efficiently, technological innovation is important to fuel the success of port operations.
With the current realities and disruption brought on by the advent of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is evident that the new normal has provided a virtual experience that is also inevitable in the maritime value chain and in business operations to remain competitive, profitable and to pursue sustainability. Therefore, it is important to state that becoming “smart” means becoming more attractive and competitive.
As an import dependent nation, if port operations are supported by technological applications, this will be reflected in the revenues generated in the ports, which will contribute to economic growth and also improve the well-being of the people. Because all the costs associated with imports and exports will be drastically reduced, which in turn will affect the price of goods and services across the country. Pleasantly, the Nigerian government and regulators need substantial improvements and investment in infrastructure to reap the benefits and gains from the maritime sector.
It is important to note that the only key infrastructure that can make a huge difference is this technological application through the use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Autonomous drones, sensors, real-time cargo tracking, camera systems and smart lights on port access roads to monitor traffic movements, all of these and more can be used to improve performance and render our smart ports.
Therefore, investing in technology is crucial in today’s landscape to improve traditional brick and mortar practices and also to improve perennial challenges such as port congestion. Technology can be the new development path to bring about the desired change in the maritime industry. Currently, a port without technology and without intelligence of the market and its players, even more without a defined and anticipated strategy, cannot survive the intensity of international competition. However, with technology, monitoring and surveillance functions can be simplified. Because data management will be used to make the best decisions, improve processes and make them more efficient. Therefore, with technological applications, the marine industry can do more with less effort and resources. Therefore, to put it simply, a smart port is a port that takes into account technology, automation and innovative technologies as presented above.
Adoption and technological advancements will allow working towards a smart ecosystem in the country. The concept of smart port involves the use of technologies to transform the various public services in ports into interactive systems. And what is the real purpose? To meet the needs of port users with greater efficiency, transparency and value.
A well-built digital infrastructure can help ports optimize their physical infrastructure as well as predict and prepare for future investment and maintenance needs. Based on the results, automated ports are generally more secure than conventional ports. Indeed, as technology develops and ports become smart, the use of innovative technologies will then improve business improvement, solve permanent traffic jams on highways, reduce turnaround times, improve service levels and encourage more efficient use of resources.
Significantly, some of the key factors in becoming a smart port are to improve the throughput of all types of goods and reduce the use of scarce resources. It will increase efficiency, speed up the movement, customs clearance and release of goods at ports; it will help overcome simultaneous challenges and ineffective customs controls. In addition, it will improve the security, the quality of the experience of stakeholders and users of the port, and in the remote information monitoring platform, better document management will also be guaranteed.
Significantly, the adoption of technology and full digitization will revolutionize the maritime industry and also transform ports. More importantly, we are likely to have a decrease in the number of transport accidents per year with the implementation. Increased commercial return is no doubt as real-time data flow and transparent activities will be guaranteed both physically and remotely in ports.
On a positive note, one can draw inspiration from many leading countries with smart ports and digitized maritime sectors. In particular, Spain and Finland, where innovative solutions lead to even smarter ports, such as the Port of Seville in Spain, the Port of Hanko and the Port of Helsinki in Finland, which is the world’s most popular passenger port. busiest in Europe. In 2019, a total of 12.2 million passengers passed through the port of Helsinki, which is also Finland’s leading general port for foreign trade. Other “smart” ports (already developed or underway) are located in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Hamburg (Germany), Singapore (which has earned the nickname “connected port”), the ports of Shenzhen and Shanghai in China, and those located in Los Angeles and San Diego (United States), to name a few.
In conclusion, a smart port should not be seen as a simple application of digital technology. The intelligence of a port is also based on its ability to develop a collaborative approach. Therefore, finding the right partner to help with technical management is essential and can make all the difference. Port authorities and regulators may not have all the necessary means to develop technological innovation on their own. The crucial point is that there is a need to create supportive ecosystems, where the importance of government, stakeholders, researchers, industries, users, legislators and international agencies will be recognized in the transformation and in the processes. innovative. Smartport is the future and is already here, so we need to align ourselves in order to move forward with current trends. Good luck!
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*** Dr Timi Olubiyi is an expert in entrepreneurship and business management with a PhD. in Business Administration from Babcock University in Nigeria. He can be reached on the @drtimolubiyi Twitter account and by e-mail: [email protected], for all questions, reactions and comments.