The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has said that boosting indigenous ship ownership would enable Nigeria to compete favourably in the international scene.
Amaechi made the assertion at the maiden edition of the Lagos International Shipping Expo organised by the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) in Lagos.
The Expo had the theme: “Shipping, Global Economy and National Development”.
Amaechi was represented by Mrs Grace Atiegoba, Director, Reform, Coordination, and Service Improvement in the ministry.
According to him, the Federal Government is aware of the challenges in the maritime industry and working to ameliorate them but constrained by limited financial resources.
He spoke on the topic, “Achieving the Objective of the Five-Year Marine Notice: Roadmap to Equip Nigeria”.
He said: “Shipping is a catalyst that will boost socio-economic development in the country.
“Ninety per cent of developed nations are maritime-driven; so, there is need for the country to key into such to boost its economy.
“Government is aware of the challenges in the industry and is working towards ameliorating them, but the issue is that government is constrained by limited financial resources.
“Government is also eager about marine notice as it will provide important issues on safety, general guidance to shipping and marine communities.”
The minister added that government was concerned about the non-disbursement of the cabotage financing funds, poor infrastructure and poor maritime institutions in the country.
He noted that all these concerns are affecting the industry, adding that there were solutions being put in place by the government to checkmate the challenges.
He listed the ways out to include review of the Cabotage Act, having competent personnel and promoting Public/Private Participation.
According to him, the others include giving inland waterways deserved attention and improving participation of indigenous shipping companies.
Ms Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation, said that maritime was a backbone for global trade and economy.
Saraki, who was represented by Hajia Bola Muse, President, Women in Maritime, said that the maritime industry would provide a hub of opportunity for trade to take place.
According to her, the jobs and livelihood of billions of people in the developing world and standard of living in the industrialised and developed world depended on shipping.
“The shipping industry is critical for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and for meeting its challenges,” she said.
Mr Legor Idagbo, Chairman, Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Committee, said that there would be zero tolerance for violation of the NOGIC Act, an Act for local content.
According to him, the Act is being strengthened to incorporate other sectors of the economy, and thereafter ensure appropriate sanctions are applied.
“We have barely scratched the surface of the potential of this huge industry. A lot more needs to be done to incentivize local investments in the sector,” Idagbo said.
Dr Mkgeorge Onyung, President, SOAN, noted that shipping was key to unlocking the economic prosperity of the country.
“Barely six month in the saddle of being the president of the association, I thought a sustainable project that will ensure the development of our capacity and improve maritime business in the country is through this expo.
“This is to enable us to speak with one voice so that it will be loud enough for all stakeholders to hear and understand the challenges of shipowners and what they need,” Onyung said.