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Mar 28, 2023

Belize’s Port Digitization and Roadmap for the Maritime Sector

It has been estimated that ships carry over ninety percent of all merchandise traded. In light of this fact, maritime transport is considered to be an essential component of the global economy. The World Bank and the Belize Port Authority have embarked on a mission to enhance the performance and resilience of Belize’s maritime supply chain through digital technology. With technical support from the World Bank, a roadmap has been developed to support the digitization of the industry. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The import sector plays a vital role in Belize’s economic development. Most of the goods we consume are shipped into the country through our seaports. From the ports, goods are trucked across each district to their intended destination.  The digitization of these services is crucial to the sustainability of the industry.


Darlin Gaitan

Darlin Gaitan, Acting Port Commissioner, BPA

“So we had a, a study on the status of port digitalization in Belize and what we have is a presentation of the status report, the strategy, and the roadmap for digitalizing our ports.”


Gylfi Palsson

Gylfi Palsson, Lead Transport Specialist, World Bank

“This is one step of multitude of steps that are needed to improve what we refer to as trade and transport facilitation, which are systematic means of trying to reduce costs of a logistics chain. Logistics chain in this case being the one that if we’re talking of maritime site, the port operation site of it, and the trucking site of it. That if you look at all the elements that go into the import such that it arrives from a port into the country and goes into the shelves, this digitalization is a step towards decreasing costs that eventually will happen. This is not something that is going to happen overnight just so that people don’t have that wrong impress.”


In partnership with the World Bank, the Belize Port Authority has developed a roadmap for digitizing our ports. That guide was shared with various stakeholders at a workshop in Belize City.


Darlin Gaitan

“For the largest part, we, you will find within the workshop that most of our processes are paper based or email based. So it isn’t digitalized so it’s not effective and it’s very cost, costly to the end user. So all of those, uh, present opportunities for us to enhance our competitiveness through digitalizing our systems. One of the examples that I would put forward is real-time data. When a ship is coming into port, if all of you are connected to receiving the real-time data of where the ship is, where your cargo is. When your cargo is uploaded, when your cargo is at port, when it’s ready to be discharged, when it has been cleared by customs, that makes your processes from the business side more efficient because you’re able to plan ahead. And so, imagine the benefits of all those players that have access to real-time information and be able to make real-time decisions in a more effective and efficient manner.”


And, with a multitude of stakeholders directly involved in the industry, digital technology is making way for what is known as a maritime single window, where key documentation on vessels can be inputted and accessed in one location.


Gylfi Palsson

“For instance, when cargo is coming there are various agencies involved. Many of them have their own system, like as a system, even just handwritten system, and maybe excel system. However, the information of this is often uniform such that for instance, a maritime single window would be a utility, would be a digitalization of information that would be available to all the different parties early on, even before the vessel such that they’re working and singing from the same note sheet, that everybody has the same information, the correct information, that there are not errors being created. By transferring information from one system to another, this facilitates its speeds up. It improves the productivity in the sector, hence by extension it’ll lead to lowering of costs.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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