Nigeria Ranks Low in Logistics Performance Index – CRFFN

Mrs. Egbuna is presenting the CRFFN Registrar's paper at the conference.

Over the years the port operators and users were facing a lot of challenges particularly in the quality of services offered by freight forwarders. Apparently, majority of freight forwarders lack the capacity for expediting and processing their shipment efficiently. The CRFFN Act was enacted in response to this problem.The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) was established by Act No. 16 2007 of the National Assembly as a regulatory agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transportation. The Council is charged with the responsibility to set standards  for education and skills and regulate the practice of freight forwarding with a view to promoting the highest standard of competence and professional practice. Conventionally, the strategic role of a freight forwarder is to ensure the efficient movement of goods. Section 30 of the CRFFN Act defines the Freight Forwarder as “any person or company who arranges the carriage or movement of goods and associated formalities on behalf of an importer or exporter along the international boundaries of sea ports, cargo airports or land border station’’. In compliance with the Act, the Council has developed a Register of freight forwarders in the country, grouping them into two major categories; the individual (staff and executive) and the corporate (companies and freight service providers) freight forwarders. Therefore, the Freight Forwarding industry includes all engaged in the business of international shipping and freight logistics. Roles of the Council in cargo movement/ LogisticsThe ability of a country to provide and deliver goods and services on time and at an affordable cost is a major indicator of their global competitiveness. Basically, Freight Forwarding is a trade facilitation activity that ensures that goods are moved across international borders at competitive cost, in the right way at the right time and in accordance with existing and relevant regulations. It is widely acknowledged that human capacity development is one of the key areas for promoting efficiency in cargo movement. Section 4 of the Act charged the Council with the duty of determining the skills and knowledge to be attained by persons seeking to be registered as a Freight Forwarder and raising those standards in accordance with international standards. In compliance with the enabling Act, the Council has set educational standards by developing and implementing courses in Freight Forwarding, Logistics and Supply chain management which cuts across legal aspects, dangerous goods management and ICT applications amongst others. International Accreditation has also been obtained from International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA), the global body regulating Freight Forwarding to execute FIATA professional Diploma courses across the entire nation. The capacity building programmes designed to address new entrants in the industry and general practitioners are reviewed periodically to meet with international standards. The Act restricts the participation of freight forwarders without the required education and skills from engaging in movement of goods. Accordingly by 2021 anyone without at least a FIATA Diploma in Freight Forwarding and Supply Chain Management qualifications will not be allowed to practice. We are already recording an increase in the number of Education Service Providers (ESP) accredited by the Council. It is interesting to note that the Council has accredited over fifteen (15) institutions across the six (6) geopolitical zones and has over two hundred (200) certified professionals to carry out these training. These courses will equip the practitioners with the required skills and competencies to deliver on the job and in hence strengthen the ability of freight forwarders to participate effectively in global trade facilitation.It is evident that logistics which is a major component of the supply chain is crucial to economic development of any nation. The World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) bears this out. Unfortunately, Nigeria is low on this very important metric ranking 110 out of the 166 countries. This puts the country below African countries like Kenya, Ghana etc. This is in spite of the fact that ECOWAS has identified Nigeria as the most active West African country in trade accounting for 76% of shipping activities undertaken in the whole of West Africa. This means that our trade quality is poor. Some identified causes of low performance include the costs and speed of clearance processes. On this note, the Council is appealing to all practitioners, stakeholders, port operators and users to cooperate with the Council in addressing these challenges. Participation in the Council’s range of programmes will raise skills and competencies and moreover empower the Freight Forwarders with the required capacity to handle cargo more efficiently especially dangerous Goods which is a special regime. It is no news that the President of the Federation, Muhammadu Buhari has recently endorsed Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) which is focused on increasing intra-Africa trade. This is also a wakeup call for all involved in the freight forwarding activities to explore the new opportunities that come with AFCFTA bearing in mind that promotion of trade and economic activities can only be practical when there’s provision of a conducive, friendly and compliant environment. It is interesting to note that the Council is presently working with the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Nigerian Railway Corporation to promote the use of Kaduna Inland Dry Port (KIDP). This will greatly reduce costs, congestion and accidents on the road network as well create jobs and facilcitate import and export trade. In conclusion, I will like to state that CRFFN is passionately pursuing the  implementation of its mandate that will usher in a new era in the  Freight Forwarding profession and this will surely impact positively on the country’s economy. Thank you.

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