The 2018 CILT Abuja Forum - breaking frontiers, ensuring new paradigms

BY: Joe Effah-Nkyi, (MILT)

Being a professional member in good standing, I had the privilege to attend the 2018 annual African forum of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) held in Nigeria’s federal capital Abuja on the 14th to 16th of March on the main theme “Building capacity for efficient logistics & transport services in Africa”, which brought together enthusiastic associates from various African countries. This was one event that succeeded in recording unprecedented number of congregation in the annals of CILT annual African conventions and as usual, big brother Nigeria, outpacing participating countries with her numerical influence.

Consequently, this historic forum was the type that usually precedes the ultimate and international version which this time around is scheduled to be held in the city of Wroclaw in Poland, Eastern Europe. In the course of deliberations among various speakers, a lot of demanding issues bothering the institute, specifically the influence of CILT policy initiatives on the entire African continent and Africa’s position on global matters in respect of logistics and transport broader spectrum became highly topical.

Accordingly, most great speakers, which of course included Kevin Byrne, International President, the president of CILT-Ghana, Mr. Ebo Hammond, Hajia Aisha Ali Ibrahim, the Global convener, Women In Logistics and Transport (WILAT), the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, who also happens to be National patron of CILT-Nigeria, Chief Teete Owusu-Nortey, the National Vice-Chairman & Chairman Africa forum and not forgetting the massive turnout of other honourable dignitaries lamented why Africa is seemingly not so visible in the scheme of global trade, logistics and transport.

Their genuine concerns were anchored on the irrefutable fact that, it was not by mistake that the African continent is strategically placed in the epicenter of the global hemisphere. The postulations were that, once the continent can boast of such comparative advantage, the scales could be ensured to tilt towards the African cause, in that, efforts could be made to own the world’s technologically hub port interface; which all alluded to be a possibility looking at the abundant unexploited natural resources. Such action could incontrovertibly improve the African economies significantly through variables such as massive Infrastructure development, high tech, the urgent need for higher level Human capital development, Resources-both physical and the financial wherewithal, the desired Political will that has been the ‘Achilles heels’ of the African leadership, prudent strategic planning, the commitment and ultimately relaxation in documentations for prompt facilitation of trade among member countries and beyond. In such circumstances, Africa could therefore metamorphose into the fulcrum around which global logistics and transport chain revolves.

Looking at contemporary global events, many developmental strategic initiatives in the areas of logistics/transport continue to be espoused by countries exclusively located in the Asiatic regions which in their estimation is expected to enhance their versatility in the scheme of global activities. China could be cited as classical example in this connection. In recent times the Chinese government has proposed the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the One Belt and One Road Initiative, (OBOR). A highly grandiose and historic project, it is a development strategy that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among polities, most exclusively jurisdictions located within European/Asiatic territory.

Conversely, as we speak now, China has just unveiled a 55-kilometer bridge, the longest sea bridge globally spanning Hong Kong with the southern city of Zhuhai and the region of Macao. The agitations here are that; what efforts is the African continent through CILT Africa putting up to actualized its role with regards to trade, logistics/transport.? Besides, how could trade barriers could be sufficiently dismantled to propel optimal movement of both human and material logistics. It is the conviction of many of us that the time has eventually come for African leaders to surmount perceived obstacles confronting the continent by putting in place sound pragmatic strategies which could create the requisite paradigm shift being crave for.

The above notwithstanding, the Chairman of Nigeria’s Senate committee who happens to be a Fellow of CILT-Nigeria, placed the icing on the cake after asserting that a bill has already been tabled before the Senate for recognition of CILT-Nigeria as a constitutionally mandated regulatory body in the Logistics/Transport sector. This new development is seen as step in the right direction, in that, it is perceived as a prudent strategy eager to propel the institute to higher pedigree. He went on to reiterate the decisive necessity for institutional framework to regulate the Logistics/Transport activity to open up immense and untapped opportunities to the teeming populace of Africa anchored on entrenched professionalism. In this connection, African countries could emulate the perfect example of big brother Nigeria if the second largest continent on the entire hemisphere is expected to critically exert influence in global discussions on Trade, Logistics/Transport besides its correlated infrastructure.

The institute determined that with today’s rapid emergence of 4PL, 5PL, 6PL conceptualization underlying logistics, supply chain industry, concerted efforts is greatly required to absolutely embrace digitization which is grounded on globalized technology for enhancement and improved facilitation of the seamless processes confronting the Industry.

Ultimately, the entirety of members was of the conviction that in this 21st century, Africa has no excuse but to push to take a larger role in global affairs with Logistics and Transport acting as the key catalyst for the achievement of its goals and aspirations through redefinition of sustainable trading networks. The International convention in Wroclaw-Poland, come June, therefore provides the definite podium to concretize and accentuate all resolutions enacted at Abuja convention. WROCLAW, HERE WE COME.