Nigeria: Redefining Freight Forwarding in Nigeria

14 August 2020

Eromosele Abiodun reveals how an online platform is changing the way freight forwarding, marine insurance, customs brokerage, shipment and warehousing services are accessed and delivered in Nigeria

Early this year, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers' Council (NSC) Hassan Bello challenged stakeholders in the Maritime industry to embrace virtual ports operation as part of measures to fast track development in the sector and the larger economy.

Bello, while speaking during the webinar had described the present port operations as cumbersome.

According to him, the ports can operate optimally 24 hours like the airport if adequate measures are put in place to make it services less of human contact and paperless.

He said in order to achieve the above, there was need for an integration of all stakeholders in the maritime sector such as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), importers, terminal operators, freight forwarders, among others.

Bello also decried the physical and monotonous means of examinations at the ports, that stakeholders must brainstorm on ensuring that the ports develop an inter modal transport system.

He challenged freight forwarders to embrace technology and move their operation online so as not to be left behind by the rest of the world.

He also said the congestion currently being experienced at the ports is not good for businesses as the multiplier effects have adversely affected all stakeholders in the sector as operators are losing huge resources day in day out.

"The council is working round the clock to ensure ease of doing business for stakeholders in the sector, adding that adequate automation of ports services and employment of multi modal means of evacuation of cargoes will enable ease of doing business for operators and investors in the sector," he said.

On Covid-19 challenges and the way forward, Bello said: "From the onset, we realised that It was important to strike a balance between ports operations, services and safety. This is why we are calling on freight forwarders to embrace technology and go paperless.

"During the lockdown when we experienced initial challenge of banks not opening to provide financial services within the ports, freight forwarders could not do anything because most of them could not make online payment.

"Also, there were so many negative impacts as big markets like the Onitsha, Aba markets were shut hence problems of where goods stuck at the ports would be moved to.

"Restriction on interstate movement was also another down time for businesses in the Port as goods were stuck in the ports leading to loss of huge resources for both shippers and owners."

OnePort Provides Solution

Belloe's call is tenable because in an era where increased trade is being projected as a credible route to economic growth and national development, the need for the Nigeria ports system to embrace paperless operation cannot be overemphasised. However, change has come already as a revolutionary online platform is changing the way freight forwarding, marine insurance, customs brokerage, shipment and warehousing services are accessed and delivered in Nigeria.

Owned and managed by OnePort 365, a Nigerian based start-up, the platform combines years of experience, research and technology to address inefficiencies common to the global freight forwarding industry as well as the unique process and infrastructure challenges confronting Africa.

With over 13,000 tonnes of containerised cargo facilitated within the last eight months from across Nigeria, OnePort 365 is facilitating international trade through its platform in an operating environment that still grapples with bottlenecks and infrastructure challenges.

Through the Eye of a Needle

Much inefficiency common to international trade exists in Nigeria. Lack of short term warehousing arrangements puts pressure on businessmen and women engaged in international trade. Standard rental agreement for warehouses in

Nigeria still remains yearly rent.

Also, commodity traders and seasonality are synonymous. Therefore, a system, which is purely built on yearly rent is uneconomical and significantly reduces profitability. Sadly, that is the situation in the Nigerian port system today

Additionally, international traders are faced with the vagaries and uncertainties associated with transporting cargo in Nigeria. Often, they have to grapple with truckers who provide inaccurate information on location of cargo and arrival dates during the transportation process. In worst-case scenarios, the cargo and driver go missing completely.

In Nigeria, only about three in 10 truckers are what can be called corporate truckers that tend to operate professionally. Apart from these professionals, truckers tend to set prices at whatever rate they want to.

Unfortunately, a rate guide introduced by the Nigerian Shippers Council, for shipments via trucks with destinations within Lagos, is not being followed by many truckers.

Beyond these challenges, activities around arrangement for shipping, marine insurance and customs brokerage can be fraught with bottlenecks, leading to frustration for international traders who are interested in service delivery that is prompt and reduces costs.

"OnePort 365's platform handles all of these challenges using its state-of-the-art technology that has been vetted by users across Nigeria. The model is simple. Anyone with cargo designated for export, import or inland transportation, can log on to the OnePort 365 platform, book for trucks, rail or barge transportation to deliver the cargo to Lagos or other ports including Onne Port in Port Harcourt for shipment; look for a suitable warehouse to store the cargo for any specific period of time; arrange insurance and shipment to whatever part of the world, "said Lead Partner and CEO, OnePort 365, Hio Sola-Usidame.

OnePort 365, he said, provides a customer experience that includes seamless quotation and booking processes with comprehensive online documentation. "The platform also includes a dashboard with a holistic view of shipment locations and other shipment information throughout the shipment process. With these, customers gain competitive advantage by saving associated freight transaction costs and time by being able to track live data for better freight planning and quicker decision making.

"We're streamlining the trade process for international traders using the power of technology, as against the opaque and outdated system that currently exists whereby exporters deal with over 20 touch points (in some cases) in a single transaction. We have developed a platform where exporters can select services they require, receive instant quotes and conclude bookings, he explained.

OnePort 365's automated processes, he added, provide profitable growth opportunities for vendors.

These benefits, he stressed, have played a fundamental role in compelling players in the sector to adopt the digitalised services that OnePort 365 offers.

Breaking Economic Inertia

The revolutionary platform started operations at a time when Nigeria's economy was in dire need of impetus. The outbreak of Covid-19 has also had a significant impact on the ability of the government to earn revenues from crude oil sales.

The country's principal trade partners, including China and India, cut demand for crude oil as production in factories generally ebbed during the heat of the pandemic.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the value of solid minerals exports was 16.31 per cent lower in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and 82.17 per cent less than the value recorded in the first quarter of 2019. Manufactured goods exports decreased by 12.72 per cent in value in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and 3.86 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2019, while crude oil exports decreased by 18.86 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

These reductions led to a steady decline in the nation's external reserves and increased pressure on the Naira. Therefore, analysts have pointed to alternative exports, especially in raw materials and consumables, as key to salvaging the economy at this point.

Analysts agree that seamless freight forwarding of commodities from the hinterlands to the seaport are a sine qua non to increasing trade at the moment. This makes OnePort 365's platform all-important.

Mirroring Global Standards

Meanwhile, THISDAY checks revealed that the strategy and services of OnePort 365 are in sync with the forward progression of the sector in other climes, as epitomised by the services and disposition of three freight forwarding companies operating successfully in their various locales outside Nigeria.

These companies are Cogoport operating in India, Flexport in the United States and Freighthub, which operates in Germany. Using similar platforms as OnePort 365, these companies have distinguished themselves by delivering state of the art freight forwarding solutions in the developed and developing countries where they operate.

The OnePort 365 platform compares favourably. Optimised for ease, it gives access to an extensive infrastructure network and connects all the parties involved in the freight forwarding process including inland transportation, ocean freighting, warehousing, marine insurance and customs brokerage. By helping international traders streamline shipment processes to save time and avoid needless costs, OnePort 365 has started a trade revolution that will propel the Nigerian economy in the desired direction.

Leading by Experience

Sola-Usidame said his experience in the freight forwarding industry helps to ensure that OnePort 365 is run on principles that prioritise low and predictable supply chain costs, with quick, reliable transit times, all of which are important in the tough business environment Nigeria presents.

Sola-Usidame has extensive experience in the industry. In 2016, he co-founded Logigrains, a Nigeria Customs Service and Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) licensed freight forwarder and Logistics Company.

Logigrains is a B2B brokerage firm that provides advisory services to financial institutions and some of the top mining firms in Africa.

Prior to Logigrains, Sola-Usidame had worked in London, UK with prominent firms in the financial and energy sectors. As a commercial advisor in the energy industry, he was responsible for midstream & downstream projects valued at over $2 billion across the United States, Middle East and West Africa.

According to Sola-Usidame, OnePort 365 is simplifying global trade for Africa's businesses by using the platform to provide end-to-end digital access to seamless freight forwarding.

This simplification, he added, will usher in a new regime of transparency and optimisation to a largely traditional forwarding market, while enhancing supply chain efficiency, accountability, reliability and profitability.

"Our purpose is to usher in a radical change that significantly enhances Africa's participation in global trade with a complete systemic transformation, "he said.

Redefining Freight Forwarding in Nigeria

Eromosele Abiodun reveals how an online platform is changing the way freight forwarding, marine insurance, customs brokerage, shipment and warehousing services are accessed and delivered in Nigeria

Early this year, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers' Council (NSC) Hassan Bello challenged stakeholders in the Maritime industry to embrace virtual ports operation as part of measures to fast track development in the sector and the larger economy.

Bello, while speaking during the webinar had described the present port operations as cumbersome.

According to him, the ports can operate optimally 24 hours like the airport if adequate measures are put in place to make it services less of human contact and paperless.

He said in order to achieve the above, there was need for an integration of all stakeholders in the maritime sector such as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), importers, terminal operators, freight forwarders, among others.

Bello also decried the physical and monotonous means of examinations at the ports, that stakeholders must brainstorm on ensuring that the ports develop an inter modal transport system.

He challenged freight forwarders to embrace technology and move their operation online so as not to be left behind by the rest of the world.

He also said the congestion currently being experienced at the ports is not good for businesses as the multiplier effects have adversely affected all stakeholders in the sector as operators are losing huge resources day in day out.

"The council is working round the clock to ensure ease of doing business for stakeholders in the sector, adding that adequate automation of ports services and employment of multi modal means of evacuation of cargoes will enable ease of doing business for operators and investors in the sector," he said.

On Covid-19 challenges and the way forward, Bello said: "From the onset, we realised that It was important to strike a balance between ports operations, services and safety. This is why we are calling on freight forwarders to embrace technology and go paperless.

"During the lockdown when we experienced initial challenge of banks not opening to provide financial services within the ports, freight forwarders could not do anything because most of them could not make online payment.

"Also, there were so many negative impacts as big markets like the Onitsha, Aba markets were shut hence problems of where goods stuck at the ports would be moved to.

"Restriction on interstate movement was also another down time for businesses in the Port as goods were stuck in the ports leading to loss of huge resources for both shippers and owners."

OnePort Provides Solution

Belloe's call is tenable because in an era where increased trade is being projected as a credible route to economic growth and national development, the need for the Nigeria ports system to embrace paperless operation cannot be overemphasised. However, change has come already as a revolutionary online platform is changing the way freight forwarding, marine insurance, customs brokerage, shipment and warehousing services are accessed and delivered in Nigeria.

Owned and managed by OnePort 365, a Nigerian based start-up, the platform combines years of experience, research and technology to address inefficiencies common to the global freight forwarding industry as well as the unique process and infrastructure challenges confronting Africa.

With over 13,000 tonnes of containerised cargo facilitated within the last eight months from across Nigeria, OnePort 365 is facilitating international trade through its platform in an operating environment that still grapples with bottlenecks and infrastructure challenges.

Through the Eye of a Needle

Much inefficiency common to international trade exists in Nigeria. Lack of short term warehousing arrangements puts pressure on businessmen and women engaged in international trade. Standard rental agreement for warehouses in

Nigeria still remains yearly rent.

Also, commodity traders and seasonality are synonymous. Therefore, a system, which is purely built on yearly rent is uneconomical and significantly reduces profitability. Sadly, that is the situation in the Nigerian port system today

Additionally, international traders are faced with the vagaries and uncertainties associated with transporting cargo in Nigeria. Often, they have to grapple with truckers who provide inaccurate information on location of cargo and arrival dates during the transportation process. In worst-case scenarios, the cargo and driver go missing completely.

In Nigeria, only about three in 10 truckers are what can be called corporate truckers that tend to operate professionally. Apart from these professionals, truckers tend to set prices at whatever rate they want to. Unfortunately, a rate guide introduced by the Nigerian Shippers Council, for shipments via trucks with destinations within Lagos, is not being followed by many truckers.

Beyond these challenges, activities around arrangement for shipping, marine insurance and customs brokerage can be fraught with bottlenecks, leading to frustration for international traders who are interested in service delivery that is prompt and reduces costs.

"OnePort 365's platform handles all of these challenges using its state-of-the-art technology that has been vetted by users across Nigeria. The model is simple. Anyone with cargo designated for export, import or inland transportation, can log on to the OnePort 365 platform, book for trucks, rail or barge transportation to deliver the cargo to Lagos or other ports including Onne Port in Port Harcourt for shipment; look for a suitable warehouse to store the cargo for any specific period of time; arrange insurance and shipment to whatever part of the world, "said Lead Partner and CEO, OnePort 365, Hio Sola-Usidame.

OnePort 365, he said, provides a customer experience that includes seamless quotation and booking processes with comprehensive online documentation. "The platform also includes a dashboard with a holistic view of shipment locations and other shipment information throughout the shipment process. With these, customers gain competitive advantage by saving associated freight transaction costs and time by being able to track live data for better freight planning and quicker decision making.

"We're streamlining the trade process for international traders using the power of technology, as against the opaque and outdated system that currently exists whereby exporters deal with over 20 touch points (in some cases) in a single transaction. We have developed a platform where exporters can select services they require, receive instant quotes and conclude bookings, he explained.

OnePort 365's automated processes, he added, provide profitable growth opportunities for vendors.

These benefits, he stressed, have played a fundamental role in compelling players in the sector to adopt the digitalised services that OnePort 365 offers.

Breaking Economic Inertia

The revolutionary platform started operations at a time when Nigeria's economy was in dire need of impetus. The outbreak of Covid-19 has also had a significant impact on the ability of the government to earn revenues from crude oil sales.

The country's principal trade partners, including China and India, cut demand for crude oil as production in factories generally ebbed during the heat of the pandemic.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the value of solid minerals exports was 16.31 per cent lower in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and 82.17 per cent less than the value recorded in the first quarter of 2019. Manufactured goods exports decreased by 12.72 per cent in value in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and 3.86 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2019, while crude oil exports decreased by 18.86 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

These reductions led to a steady decline in the nation's external reserves and increased pressure on the Naira. Therefore, analysts have pointed to alternative exports, especially in raw materials and consumables, as key to salvaging the economy at this point.

Analysts agree that seamless freight forwarding of commodities from the hinterlands to the seaport are a sine qua non to increasing trade at the moment. This makes OnePort 365's platform all-important.

Mirroring Global Standards

Meanwhile, THISDAY checks revealed that the strategy and services of OnePort 365 are in sync with the forward progression of the sector in other climes, as epitomised by the services and disposition of three freight forwarding companies operating successfully in their various locales outside Nigeria.

These companies are Cogoport operating in India, Flexport in the United States and Freighthub, which operates in Germany. Using similar platforms as

OnePort 365, these companies have distinguished themselves by delivering state of the art freight forwarding solutions in the developed and developing countries where they operate.

The OnePort 365 platform compares favourably. Optimised for ease, it gives access to an extensive infrastructure network and connects all the parties involved in the freight forwarding process including inland transportation, ocean freighting, warehousing, marine insurance and customs brokerage. By helping international traders streamline shipment processes to save time and avoid needless costs, OnePort 365 has started a trade revolution that will propel the Nigerian economy in the desired direction.

Leading by Experience

Sola-Usidame said his experience in the freight forwarding industry helps to ensure that OnePort 365 is run on principles that prioritise low and predictable supply chain costs, with quick, reliable transit times, all of which are important in the tough business environment Nigeria presents.

Sola-Usidame has extensive experience in the industry. In 2016, he co-founded

Logigrains, a Nigeria Customs Service and Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) licensed freight forwarder and Logistics Company.

Logigrains is a B2B brokerage firm that provides advisory services to financial institutions and some of the top mining firms in Africa.

Prior to Logigrains, Sola-Usidame had worked in London, UK with prominent firms in the financial and energy sectors. As a commercial advisor in the energy industry, he was responsible for midstream & downstream projects valued at over $2 billion across the United States, Middle East and West Africa.

According to Sola-Usidame, OnePort 365 is simplifying global trade for Africa's businesses by using the platform to provide end-to-end digital access to seamless freight forwarding.

This simplification, he added, will usher in a new regime of transparency and

optimisation to a largely traditional forwarding market, while enhancing supply chain efficiency, accountability, reliability and profitability.

"Our purpose is to usher in a radical change that significantly enhances Africa's participation in global trade with a complete systemic transformation, "he said.

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