The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside has stated that regional cooperation is the key to the safety and security of inbound and outbound goods and services to Africa through the seas.
Peterside said this at a technical workshop on Prospects, Challenges and Opportunities for Regional Collaboration on the sideline of the just concluded Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston Texas, in the United States of America.
Equally, he noted that the development of the maritime sector on the African continent is hinged on regional cooperation.
He further assured the select international stakeholders of a renewed effort to enhance safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea based on sustainable regional cooperation.
Peterside, who was represented by the agencyâ€™s Executive Director Operations, Rotimi Fashakin said efforts at regional collaboration have led to signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ghanaian Maritime Administration amongst others.
He added Africa particularly the sub-Saharan region of the continent stands to benefit from regional cooperation as this will enhance participation in international shipping thus reversing the current trend of the region having only an insignificant part of international cargo freight.
He noted that the Federal Government of Nigeria supports regional integration as demonstrated with the approved Integrated National Security Strategy (INSS) for the Nigerian maritime sector which is designed to be implemented in collaboration with other countries in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
â€œThe oil & Gas industry needs the maritime sector, particularly shipping, which is international in nature for it to thrive. The fact that shipping is international in nature makes collaboration particularly at the regional level inevitable. This will serve as a catalyst for growth in the industry and we at NIMASA have recognized this fact, thus our numerous collaborative efforts which have begun to yield fruitsâ€, he said.
He informed the stakeholders that NIMASA has established a command and control centre for enhanced situation awareness, response capability, law enforcement and regional cooperation amongst others, all geared towards an enhanced water security and by extension, the entire region.
Peterside who is the current Chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) also assured the international community that NIMASA will continue to collaborate with other countries in sub Saharan Africa and beyond in order to realize its vision of a prosperous maritime sector in Nigeria and the West and Central African Sub-Region.
While calling for continuous collaboration amongst partners across continents, the NIMASA DG noted that improved profiling and information sharing on maritime criminality and illegality, enhanced maritime domain awareness and surface to air patrol capabilities, functional legal framework, integration of national inter-agency efforts, amongst others are factors that can help bring solutions to the issues related to insecurity in the maritime domain.
On his part, the Chairman of NIMASA Governing Board, General Jonathan India Garba (Rtd.) noted that regional collaboration in the maritime sector is an effective measure to grow both human and infrastructural capacity in the maritime sector, adding that the NIMASA Board supports the Agencyâ€™s executive Managementâ€™s efforts at regional integration.