The federal government has been urged to shift attention to the maritime sector to revive the ailing Nigerian economy.
The Nigerian maritime industry is valued at over N5trillion in terms of annual revenue. Experts have over the years called on the federal government to take advantage of the opportunities in the sector to diversify the Nigerian economy from crude oil.
The Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, has added his voice to the call, urging the federal government to make good use of the current economic challenges that have seen a sharp decline in crude oil earnings and naira exchange rate by paying more attention to the development of the country’s maritime sector.
He stated this at the maiden edition of the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference held in Lagos with the theme: “Africa’s Maritime Capital: Nigeria and Her Potential.”
Afolabi said the maritime industry possessed the potential to rescue the country from the current economic troubles by becoming the primary source of revenue for the government.
He said: “The current economic situation has compelled the need for an inclusive search for an alternative route to national revival and rebirth, forcing upon us a movement away from decades of fixation on the traditional black gold to the maritime–the emerging glittering “blue gold’. Diligent and sustained exploitation of the vast maritime resource endowments of this sector may prove to be that very” low-hanging fruit” that Nigeria needs at a time such as we are in today.”
To turn the potential in the industry to tangible economic benefits, Afolabi urged the federal government to provide the conducive environment, propound the right legislation and provide massive infrastructural renewal, among others.
In her key note address, the Managing Director of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), Dr. Amy Jadesimi, said the operators in the maritime industry have to show tenacity in making a difference in view of the mounting challenges they face.
She said massive investment in the industry by the private operators was one of the key game-changing strategies to take full advantage of the industry’s abundant opportunities.
Using her company as an example, Jadesimi said over $500million investments have been made in both the first and second phases of its operations despite the plethora of obstacles that have been erected on its path.
She said it was almost unbelievable some years back that a company of LADOL status could be established in Nigeria, adding that its tenacity and faith in the country and the maritime industry have aided it providing support for ship building and large engineering structures.
She noted that with such huge investments LADOL has made, Nigeria can begin to change the world business model thereby grow our country to become a giant in the maritime world.
The Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference is an initiative of the Maritime Forum in the Law Faculty of University of Lagos.
It was designed as an avenue to stimulate intellectual discussions between maritime experts and the university community, especially students with interest in the maritime industry, on contemporary issues in the industry, both locally and internationally.
Over 1000 students drawn from various departments of the university and other higher institutions across the country attended the event that was also graced by seasoned maritime experts.