FG Urged to Harness Opportunities in Maritime Sector

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Eromosele Abiodun

The Chairman of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics base (LADOL), Mr. Ladi Jadesimi, has described the global maritime industry as holding vast untapped potential for growth and wealth creation.

Jadesimi, stressed that the sector also holds the key to the sustainable economic development of Nigeria when its potential is adequately harnessed and nurtured. He stated this while speaking at the 2019 Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Annual Stakeholders’ Appreciation Night held in Lagos.

He stated that having the longest coastline in West Africa gave the Nigerian maritime sector vast untapped opportunities and that the maritime sector could develop sustainable businesses that would dwarf the revenues we get from exporting commodities.

The LADOL’s chairman pointed out that across the world crude oil is increasingly being marginalised and huge pressures continue to mount to move to cleaner alternatives, and renewable.

He said: “At the same time the maritime sector is offering a wide range of new business opportunities from clean energy to new modes of transportation, logistics and agriculture – maritime sector cuts across almost all other sectors. The maritime industry holds the key to the sustainable economic development of Nigeria by developing the full the potential within the sector across a range of industries. Whatever we do must be underpinned with strong local content – in today’s world that starts with Nigerians owning, engineering and building the ships we use.

“It is, however, demonstrably the case that we have quite a large financial and capacity gap to fill for Nigerians to be in a position to own most of the vessels ploughing through our waters. Of course, we are all aware of the particular challenges militating against expansion of vessel ownership by Nigerians, the number one hurdle being access to long term finance at a reasonable price. Nonetheless, the opportunities here are considerable and more than sufficient to support the needed investment.”

He added: “Nigeria is ideally placed and suited to become the ship building, repairs and maintenance hub for Africa. This will go hand in hand with ship building. Our local market alone can justify the investments and new facilities needed. This is also an industry that has a significant multiplier effect on long-term job creation. We can just imagine the enormous positive socio-economic impact of developing vibrant wide spread ship building capacity in Nigeria along with manpower training and leading to the gainful employment in the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.

“We should borrow a leaf from the Philippines, in many ways comparable to Nigeria in socio-economic terms. As a matter of public policy, over the years they have developed a very robust world class merchant seamen training programme. Today there are tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of Pilipino merchant seamen deployed all over the world who remit millions of dollars back to the Philippines year in year out.”

“Water transportation is yet one more area where our water resources can be harnessed to power industrial development. Agricultural products rot due to poor logistics and transportation options. With no means to move them to the market efficiently the agricultural sector cannot compete globally. Roads are expensive to build and maintain. Thanks to the present Government, the railways are rising again but will take time. We can make use of the water ways today; with a fraction of the investment we would need to make into roads, ” he said.
Jadesimi, also outlined the boundless potential of a less spoken about sub-sector in maritime, which is the maritime agro industry. This includes fishing, shrimping and industrial processing, for local consumption and export.

He reminded members of NSC and captains of industry present that the opportunities before them in the maritime sector would significantly move Nigeria forward, growing the private and the public sector – i.e. win, win. In short with continuing government support and real private indigenous companies investing, innovating and industrialising the maritime sector it can add 30 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP.