Seaports, which are a lifeline for economies small and large, have been hit hard by COVID-19 disruptions. Using smart technology will help them rebound and could usher in a new era of equitable economic growth. Over 11 billion tons of goods were transported by sea in 2019.

This was equivalent to more than 80% of global trade, and seaborne cargo transport is expected to increase in the years to come. Ports facilitate economic connectivity and growth, especially for island countries. That is how goods are cost-effectively moved to and from the rest of the world; and goods which are not available in the country become accessible for its people and businesses.

Ports are a lifeline for an island economy. More so during a disaster triggered by a natural hazard or a pandemic, when access to essential goods can be lifesaving. Under normal circumstances, when a cargo ship arrives at its destination port, containers and other cargo are offloaded, logistics companies transport these to their warehouses outside the port and into the distribution channels as quickly as possible.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 3, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.