Nigerian Ports Authority’s e-payment revolution

Information and communication technologies have become as essential for modern society as electricity and water networks.

Modern everyday life would be utterly unthinkable without information and communication technologies.

Correct application of ICT helps organisations and enterprises to reduce costs, improve processes, boost innovation, and increase productivity.

ICT also makes the public sector leaner, faster and more citizen-friendly.

Port operations involve a network of processes and documentations along the chain of activities from the port of loading to the port of destination. Effective coordination of the activities makes the integration of the processes through automation absolutely necessary in order to facilitate seamless operations thereby reducing both costs and time.

It is against this backdrop that we commend the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for launching various electronic platforms including the e-payment, electronic ship entry notice (e-SEN), Revenue Invoicing Management System (RIMS) and Self Service Customer Portal as necessary steps towards full automation of processes at Nigerian ports.

The electronic ship entry notice was adopted to provide shipping companies with an electronic platform to fulfill the mandatory requirements of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the issuance of entry permits to all ships coming into the country while the e-payment platform was launched to save NPA customers the unnecessary time wasted in making payments for services rendered by the Authority.

The Revenue Invoicing Management System (RIMS) was launched this month to complement both the e-payment and e-SEN which have been up and running for than a year.

NPA’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr. Olumide Oduntan said before e-SEN was introduced in 2014, payments to the Authority took between three to four days before they were confirmed. Proofs of such payments, he said, had to be physically taken to the NPA Headquarters at Marina, Lagos irrespective of where the customer is based. The NPA Headquarters would afterwards take a minimum of 24 hours to notify the concerned port of the payment, before the ship is allowed entry into the nation’s territorial waters.

Valuable time and resources were inevitably lost through this laborious process.

The e-SEN changed all of that, allowing immediate confirmation of payments online, real time with the entire transaction process shortened to about 45 minutes.

The benefits of the solution include instant payment information, faster and efficient service delivery, improved vessel turnaround time, cost reduction and identification and blockage of revenue leakages.

The Revenue Invoicing Management System (RIMS) and Self Service Customer Portal, which was recently deployed by NPA, will also enhance processes and block revenue leakage at the nation’s seaports. The new platform is fully integrated with all existing solutions such as Oracle Financials, Oracle Human Capital Management, NPA pay direct via inter switch and the e-SEN.

NPA’s Managing Director, Mallam Habib Abdullahi, while speaking at he launch of RIMS on September 2 in Lagos said the platform also fully integrates the electronic flow of information for business-to-customer and business-to-business streams real-time with higher availability and flexible architecture.

Abdullahi said the introduction of the system has the potential to improve service offering, improve partner relationship, create efficient payment method, maximize revenue and minimize loss associated with fraud and revenue leakage.

“Also, the customer self-service portal provides a platform for customers to initiate and conclude their business process with NPA and also communicate. “Improved customer service delivery, electronic upload of manifest and e-invoice and e-reciept generation, easy access to customer accounts status, view of all transactions and status in respect of bills are some of the key benefits of this platform,” Abdullahi assured industry stakeholders who turned out in large number to witness the RIMS launch.

The introduction of these electronic platforms by the Nigerian Ports Authority is a pragmatic move that is bound to promote efficiency and enhance transparency in the organisation and at the ports. These platforms will go a long way in driving the change the country is earnestly yearning for, check corruption and boost government revenue.

Other parties in the port system must emulate NPA’s example and endeavour to drive their processes using ICT within the shortest possible time frame. NPA and the Nigeria Customs Service must also work together to create an integrated online port community, which will as much as possible eliminate human contact and discretionary powers by individuals at the ports.

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