The Acting General Manager, Business Development at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Samuel Ntow Kummi says Ghana’s ports are keeping pace with global trend in the International Port Business.
This he said is evident in the expansion of both the Tema and Takoradi Ports in addition to the massive investment in technology at the ports and the training of staff to achieve higher productivity.
“All the things that we are doing currently in our port, is to become a smart port. We are investing in infrastructure, we are investing in people, we are investing in I.T, we are investing in improving our business processes. We have not left the environment and the port community also. We are engaging them and bringing them all on board. So as we are improving our ports, we are just keeping pace with the global trend,” he said.
Speaking on the side-lines of a two day 18th Intermodal Africa Conference and Exhibitions, Samuel Ntow-Kummi also revealed that African ports are going through evolutions and one of the effects is that multi nationals are investing in the ports and therefore taking over from indigenous port operators. This, he described as a strategic threat and called on African governments to formulate policies to encourage local participation in the port industry.
“If you understand that trade is the lifeline of economic development and this lifeline is being taken over by foreign multinationals, we need to be worried. So my advice is, government should devise policies, though we cannot stop the global trend, that would make us benefit from it. Government policies to encourage local participation, and for us in the port, we have taken the step to want to acquire equity stake in our concessions,” he opined.
He stressed the need for the port community comprising terminal operators, stevedores, shipping lines, freight forwarders and other regulators to work in together to improve on their service delivery.
“We need to collaborate, we need to share information, we need to at each individual level improve upon on our own processes. Otherwise, like a chain, its strength is in the weakest link. So it is a collaborative network and the recent implementation of the paperless project in Ghana showed that if we engage across the value chain, we will be able to bring a lot of improvement,” he said.
Sharing his thoughts on developments in African Ports, the Secretary General of the Port Association of West and Central Africa, Michael Luguje called on ports in the sub region to automate their processes and ensure optimum utilisation of all equipment to ensure high productivity.
“We need to look at automation like we have seen in some presentations, but not just going 100% automation. We should have a balancing platform where we are automating, at the same time, building the human capacity to be able to accompany that automation so that we be able to get the desired outcome. Of course we have had the situations of optimum equipment utilization so you can reduce idle time and all that. Also, how you can take care of the human to ensure that the human factor to ensure operators of port equipment,” Mr.Luguje elaborated further.
He entreated Port Authorities to provide sufficient port facilities in addition to lobbying government to ensure that hinterland connections to warehouses of customers are accessible and not congested.
“The Port Authority’s responsibility is not just the waterfront and the land within the port area but also the hinterland connection. So I think any work that the Port Authority is doing is to ensure that facilities are available, personnel are equipped, and trained enough to be able to provide the best of services and that the local communities,” he said.
He continued that “the connections that link the Port into the warehouses and marketplaces of the final consumer should be accessible enough for a seamless flow of goods from the ports, into the market, and from the market to the port for export,” he explained.
The Managing Director of Transport Events and organizers of Intermodal Africa Conference, Rory Doyle called on port authorities to develop conscious efforts to improve their standards.