A decline in seaport traffic

A new data series from the NBS captures shipping and port activities. The ship traffic statistics, drawn from the Nigerian Ports Authority, show a provisional figure of 4,175 vessels berthed at various ports across the country in 2017. When compared with 2016, the total number of vessels recorded last year represented a -9.2% y/y decline. Meanwhile, total inward cargo last year decreased by -0.8% y/y to 43.0 million metric tons (mmt).

  • The decreases recorded in both total vessels at berth as well as total inward cargo could be partly linked to the modest success achieved by the FGN in its import substitution strategy. Additionally, the spending capacity of households remains subdued, despite the nascent economic recovery, resulting in soft demand for foreign purchases.
  • Based on CBN data, Nigeria generated N1.7trn in customs and excise duties in 2017, compared with N1.5trn recorded in the previous year.
  • There is an over-reliance on Lagos ports. Although, the Apapa and Tin Can Island seaports collectively accounted for 75% of total inward cargoes last year, inward cargo traffic for both seaports declined.

Sources: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS); FBNQuest Research


  • The evacuation of cargoes remains a major challenge, with other transportation links surrounding the port in poor condition. The Nigeria Port Authority has introduced cargo evacuation by barge as a short-term solution to evacuation challenges experienced at the Lagos seaports.
  • In our opinion, the government should consider optimising the existence of other seaports by providing incentives to encourage patronage. This should assist with easing the pressure on the Lagos ports. The national accounts for Q4 2017 show that water transport grew by 3.4% y/y.

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