Supporting the Nigerian Transport Sector Using Technology

An efficient transportation sector facilitates trade that improves lives and economies worldwide. Every day, transport players develop new means that support the sustainability of this sector. This stems from the knowledge that the movement of people, goods and services remains a fundamental element of a country’s economy and, to a large extent, of global economic growth.

In the third quarter 2021 economic performance report released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), growth in the non-oil sector cannot be overlooked, with the transport sector also making significant leaps in the quarter. making it one of the fastest growing sectors in Nigeria in Q3 2021.

The modes of transportation that made these impressive contributions to the economy were rail and pipeline transportation (59.93%), air transportation (33.31%), road transportation (21.11%) and transportation by water (16.30%). For a country of over 200 million people, the need for robust transportation cannot be overstated.

And that is guiding the federal government’s decision to put in place initiatives to close the gap in the transportation sector through a multimodal transportation system. Although these initiatives have yet to be unveiled, the Lagos State government has embarked on its own ambitious multi-modal transport scheme in a bid to elevate the state to smart city status.

According to the state government, funds are available to carry out the various projects, including the creation of rail lines for intra-city travel and other works that will put in place the appropriate infrastructure for a system of efficient transportation in the state. To deepen this conversation on the importance of building a sustainable transport system in the metropolis, the Lagos Transport Fest, held on December 13, 2021, attracted public and private sector stakeholders to discuss the way forward. follow to improve Nigeria’s transport system.

The event focused on all aspects of transport, including road, rail, logistics and ports, highlighting the importance of cross-sectoral partnership to develop the transport sector. In the outline of the program of the event, one element made a repeated appearance: technology.

This highlights the fact that technology can drive changes in business operations across rail, sea, air and road modes of transportation. Technology has continued to prove a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by the unprecedented changes it has produced across all sectors, and the transport sector in Nigeria is no different.

These perceived and observed changes have led to a steady increase in its use, as the digitization of processes in various economic districts has become not only widely accepted but even encouraged. Speaking along these lines, one of the event’s sponsors, Interswitch, Africa’s leading digital payment company, noted that the effect of innovation on the country’s transport sector would increase accessibility to secure payment methods and the resulting convenience for commuters.

The need for digitization in the transportation sector became notable during the height of the pandemic, as innovators devised new ways to conduct business without the need for physical contact between individuals. This has been particularly seen in the logistics industry which has seen more companies adopt technology solutions while minimizing physical contact.

In developed countries, other solutions such as robotics, drones, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) have rapidly replaced humans to reduce human contact and, by extension , the spread of the virus.

Transportation and the AfCFTA

It would be almost negligent not to mention intra-African trade through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which should facilitate the strengthening of trade relations between countries on the African continent. With this in mind, experts have highlighted deficits in the transport sector that could prevent Nigeria – Africa’s current main economy – from reaching its full potential, relegating it behind other smaller African nations with better systems. in place.

However, reassuring the country’s readiness to participate in this monumental intra-continental trade, Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi told a 2-day conference that the federal government has taken transport matters seriously.

He noted that “the transport sector is the most critical in the implementation of trade facilitation, enhancing regional integration is key to all other AfCFTA protocols. Therefore, the Nigerian government has embarked on huge investments in transport infrastructure across the country to ensure the efficiency of the transport sector.

He also highlighted the importance of digitalization in the sector as one of the major elements that require a solid infrastructure for successful intra-continental trade. The minister noted that his ministry is dedicated to improving digital services in the transportation system through service automation.

Along the same lines, analysts predict a boost in free trade in Africa through digitalization. With approximately 36 countries having ratified the AfCFTA, it is estimated that more than one billion consumers on the African continent, with a growing gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion, will be onboarded.

However, the ever-fluctuating and dollar-dependent exchange rate system on the continent remains a challenge for trade on the continent. To address this, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), has developed the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) to facilitate cross-border payments between traders. in Africa, which would involve the participating central banks.

Interswitch, through some of its brands, continued to improve cross-border payments – Quickteller, a borderless digital payment solution service and Verve Card, a payment card issued in 8 African countries and accepted in over 22 countries. from the continent. These services and products facilitate payment between African traders, removing barriers to transactions.

To take full advantage of this untapped market, countries should develop better transport infrastructure and systems and strengthen payment systems to alleviate the resulting stress, which will help to properly connect markets across the continent and achieve the primary objective of a prosperous country. continent.

Huge opportunities abound in the transport sector, but to harness them, a concerted effort by public and private sector stakeholders is needed to ensure consumers have a seamless experience when moving goods, services, people and payments. across borders.

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