Stakeholders Suggest Ways to Explore Opportunities in Maritime Industry

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Peter Uzoho

Maritime industry players have said that good management models, strategies, and policies are needed to tap from the huge opportunities in the industry, which they said could serve as alternative source of revenue to Nigeria and Africa.

Delivering a lecture at the 2nd International Maritime Business-to-Business Conference and Exhibition, held recently in Lagos, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief Nike Akande, said Nigeria has marine resources to develop a sustainable blue economy that would be used to support the traditional economy.

The event with the theme: “Dynamism and Maritime Investment in Africa,” was organised by ZOE Maritime Resources Limited.
Akande stated that these potential needed to be managed and harnessed to provide additional capacity for government to generate more revenue, create jobs and reduce poverty and unemployment in Nigeria.

“The exploitation of inherent potential and opportunities in a blue economy is a major motivation in presenting this public lecture. I hope to see this event making a business case for the development of a sustainable and vibrant blue economy in Africa, ”Akande said.
According to her, there is a compelling need for diversification of African economies that depend heavily on minerals and commodities, and have coastal resources to leverage on, to grow their economies.

Akande noted that some African countries were faced with declining government revenues and slowing growth.
“Accompanying these are rising inflation, worsening poverty level, rising unemployment rate and weakening consumer demand, ”she added.
The Convener of the conference and Chairman, ZOE Marine Resources Limited, Mrs. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, explained that the aim of the conference and exhibition was to attract foreign direct investments into the maritime industry in Nigeria as well as to stimulate the Nigerian ports as the hub of maritime activities in the West and Central African Sub region through panel discussions and networking sessions.

She said that the conference sought to address the lapses in the industry and find solutions to them, noting that Nigeria has the courage and ability to tackle these challenges because it has the greatest cargo share in Africa. She also stated that the industry was still developing adding that Nigeria has a long way to go in harnessing its resources for the benefit the citizenry.
In a communiqué read at the end of the conference by one of the Rapporteurs and Senior Associate, SPA Ajibade & Co, Mrs. Adetola Ayanru, the stakeholders suggested that audit of existing legislations be carried out; make amendments where necessary; and new legislation must be put in place to encourage the exploration of the opportunities embedded in the blue economy.

The communiqué reads in part, “there should be compliance with international standards by shipping agents and operators in safe-guarding the welfare of boarding officers in the duration of inspection activities. There should be clear and transparent declaration of actual description by the exporter to enable adequate preparation by the inspecting officer. Inspections of waste management facilities to ensure they are carried out according to law by the relevant agencies to ensure a cleaner environment.

“That there is a need for the harmonisation of government agencies effort on the clean-up of the marine environment. There should be a review of major maritime legislation in Nigeria to enable the domestication of the Rotterdam Rules and The Hague rules and Hamburg rules should be properly denounced. Nigerian Banks should engage in long term lending to help boost ship acquisition to grow the maritime industry. That the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund be channeled towards the provision of guarantees or counterpart funding for ship acquisition

“That Nigerians acquiring vessels must be willing to sacrifice by committing capital, expertise and patience. Government bureaucracy and lack of clarity of jurisprudential boundaries between Federal and State on inland waterways is a huge problem to the maritime industry especially in respect of tourism and inland waterways transportation. That there is a need for government agencies to partner with the school of oceanography in Nigeria to create a training platform for mariners and graduates of school of oceanography.”
It further reads: “That government should reconsider the issue of payment of government dues and levies in foreign currency. The use of 100 per cent customs examination is increasing the length of time for imports thereby negatively impacting on Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business index in World Bank, as there is more hours spent for Nigeria compared to other countries in the world, and thus scanners and modern technology should be utilised. The making of new laws and regulations should be done after due consultations with relevant stakeholders.

“That after about 13 years of implementing the Cabotage Regime there is need for a review to address some of its challenges in practical terms. The development of more efficient port infrastructure under the port concessions and the growth of Deep Sea Ports will enhance the status of Nigeria as the focal point or maritime hub in the West and Central African Sub-region.

“That the introductions made by the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act and its rules of court procedures need to be well understood to aid a speedy resolution of matters before the courts and also mitigate the cost of litigation. The growth of a well-defined and internationally accepted maritime jurisprudence will also enhance the development of Nigeria as a maritime arbitration centre for the West and Central African sub-region.”