Borrow a leaf from Morocco, transform Nigeria’s seaport – AfDB President

October 11, 2021
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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has advised the Federal Government to borrow a leaf from other African countries like Morocco and consider the total transformation of the Nigeria seaports instead of struggling to decongest the crowded ports.

Mr Adesina challenged the Nigerian government to ‘decisively’ resolve its debt challenges to spur economic growth.

He made the call Monday in Abuja at the opening of a two-day mid-term ministerial performance review retreat, declaring that Nigeria in 2021 should not be wasting her time seeking how to decongest her seaports but how to transform their operations.

According to him, ‘we (Nigeria) should not be decongesting the seaports, we should be transforming the seaports.’

Speaking more on why Nigeria should borrow a leaf from Morocco, Adesina said, he was impressed with the smooth and flawless operations he witnessed when he undertook the tour of Tangiers Seaport in Morocco, pointing out that the North African nation is using technology to drive her seaports.

‘When I undertook the tour of Tangiers Seaport in Morocco, I was impressed with what I saw on the ground. When I first arrived at Tangiers Seaport I thought they were on national holiday but I later discovered that machines, technology have taken the work of humans. Nigeria should learn from Morocco”, Adesina said.

The AfDB President expressed concern over the country’s debt service to revenue ratio, saying it was too high.

Recall that the Debt Management Office (DMO), had in September said Nigeria’s total public debt (federal and state governments) rose to N35.46 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2021.

Adesina, however, acknowledged that the debt-to-GDP ratio remains ‘moderate’.

According to him, economic resurgence is possible when the government removes “structural bottlenecks” that limit the revenue-earning potential of non-oil sectors.

According to him, ‘Nigeria must decisively tackle its debt challenges. The issue is not about the debt-to-GDP ratio, as Nigeria’s debt-to-GDP ratio at 35% is still moderate. The big issue is how to service the debt and what that means for resources for domestic investments needed to spur faster economic growth,’ he said.

‘The debt service to revenue ratio of Nigeria is high at 73%. Things will improve as oil prices recover, but the situation has revealed the vulnerability of Nigeria’s economy. To have an economic resurgence, we need to fix the structure of the economy and address some fundamentals.

‘Nigeria’s challenge is revenue concentration, as the oil sector accounts for 75.4 % of export revenue and 50 % of all government revenue.

‘What is needed for sustained growth and economic resurgence is to remove the structural bottlenecks that limit the productivity and the revenue earning potential of the huge non-oil sectors.’

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