Maritime Stakeholders Decry Nigeria’s Low Penetration in $14tn Global Shipping Industry

Gilbert Ekugbe

Maritime stakeholders have expressed concerns over Nigeria’s inability to take advantage of the $14 trillion global shipping industry.

The immediate past President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung, at SOAN’s inauguration of its new executive council members in Lagos, said Nigeria is lagging behind among its contemporaries to tapping into the trillion dollar shipping industry, stating the urgent need to deploy the use of the cabotage fund to unlock Nigeria’s economic fortunes in the global shipping industry.

Also speaking, the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), and the Chairman of the National Fleet Implementation Committee, Mr. Hassan Bello, stated that Nigeria could earn over $9.1 billion annually from freights.

Bello who also doubled as the Chairman Inauguration Committee, called on the federal government and stakeholders in the maritime industry to increase their level of collaboration to achieve the enormous task of making Nigeria a force to reckon with in the global shipping space.

“We must work for this and indeed it is an enormous task which would require government support too. I will advise SOAN not to wait for the government,” he advised.

He pointed out the need for having an effective participation in international trade, maintaining that 90 per cent of international trade is done via the sea through the use of ships.

“We have been missing in action and that is the whole issue. We need to be unequivocal and deliberate in our efforts and that is why it is important for this association to see one of the efforts to take us out of the doldrums,” he urged.

According to him, Nigeria is faced with negative indices ranging from high inflation, unemployment, insecurity, energy crisis, disruption of monumental proportion and declining manufacturing and export.

“Nigeria operates a mono economy that is only dependent on the export of a single commodity which is crude oil. The vagaries of international occurrences especially wars determines how our economy fares and this goes to show that we do not have the economy in our hands. Today’s event is significant because it is an illumination to drive away the darkness that has engulfed us,” he added.

On his part, a former president, SOAN, Craig Ogbeifun, said the only way to tap into the global shipping industry is for shipowners to see themselves as an association of global trading shipowners.

He stated the present administration has given maritime stakeholders the platform to take advantage of the global shipping opportunities, tasking shipowners to act as vanguard of engagement for stakeholders sensitisation, government strategic engagement to break the jinx of foreign dominance.

“It is safe to say that the majority of shipowners in that space are Nigerian shipowners as opposed to those days when it was foreign dominated. This government has given us the platform to step out and why should we be happy that all the cargoes going out and coming in are carried by foreign shipowners. We must start talking about the global space,” he added.

The new president, SOAN, Sonny Eja, said SOAN plays a pivotal role in various sectors of the nation’s maritime industry, pointing out that over the years, SOAN has actively contributed to government policy formulation, facilitated sea farer development activities and fostered international partnerships in the maritime industry.

“As I assume the responsibility of the presidency, I am actually aware of the challenges and opportunities and our association stands at a critical juncture where the decisions will make today we shape the trajectory of our profession for years to come. We will equally focus more on policy advocacy constructively engaging the relevant agencies and parastatals as it affects the ship sectors and indigenous ship owners.

“Together, we must navigate the complexities of an evolving landscape, surmount the multifaceted issues bothering around shipping especially issues such as ship acquisition, access to cargoes and positioning SOAN to maximise shipping potentials in an era where the maritime sector is displacing oil and federal government priority as demonstrated by the creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy,” he noted.

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