The much anticipated multi-million dollar Sealink project, which is expected to boost intra-African trade, will eventually list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to provide Nigerians opportunity to invest in the company.
Also, barring further delays, the shipping company is expected to launch out before the end of the year.
Sealink seeks to integrate the West and Central African sub region as well as the continent by trade thereby ensuring improvement in trade statistics.
Chairperson of the Sealink Implementation Committee, Mrs. Dabney Shall-Holma, who disclosed this, also told THISDAY, in an exclusive chat that the Ajaokuta second jetty had been ceded to the company as the base of the sealink operations.
She said: “Sealink will take off and the consortium partners will continue to manage it for a while, may be six months and then it will hit the capital market.
“I envisage that in the next three to five years, sealink will be a transcontinental project and every African will want to belong to sealink.”
She said the initiative was conceived, promoted as well as funded by the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) to respond to complaints and worries of shipping companies, exporters and importers whose trade was suffering on account of trans-shipment to Europe.
She added:” A cargo will leave Nigeria and is going to Liberia or Sierra Leone or Côte d’Ivoire or Senegal – and it would go all the way to Europe and be trans-shipped for weeks and sometimes months before the same cargo is brought back to Africa.”
Shall-Holma said the project was also conceived to reduce cost of shipment among African countries adding that the expenses were often three times more when allowing goods meant for destinations within the continent to be shipped to Europe and bring back again home.
She stressed the need for Africans to trade more with one another, lamenting that while others were trading between 40 to 50 per cent with one another, “Our trade is dismal. It’s still below 11 per cent.”
“We need to do something about changing the dynamics of our trade as Africans,” she stated.