African Ship Owners Association (ASA) has urged Nigeria to invest in ships to trade in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), to maximize its benefits.
The Secretary General of ASA, Mrs Funmi Folorunsho, made the appeal at the annnual conference of Women In Maritime Africa (WIMAfrica) Nigeria, held in Lagos.
The theme of the conference was “Empowering Women for Effective Participation in the Maritime Sector”.
According to her, since the signing of the AfCFTA agreement, the stand of the maritime industry and what they tend to benefit from it has not been highlighted.
She pointed that there should be policy development towards this effect, urging WIMA to chart the course and see that something was done to make the change.
“There is cargo to carry, and this period, with the signing of the agreement, is time to invest in ship owners in the country,” she said.
Folorunsho also urged women to develop themselves, as no one would take them because they were pretty, but because they had something to offer.
In her contribution, the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, urged women to be determined and persistent in the face of daunting odds, to achieve much in the industry.
Saraki, represented by Hajia Aisha Musa, Director, Human resources of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that the blue economy was an integral and evolving area of sustainable development.
She said that there was need to focus on providing a platform for training, capacity building, as well as corporate and entrepreneurial development of African women in the maritime sector.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, called for establishment of a special instution for girls to take courses that relate to science, technology, engineering and Mathematics.
Bala-Usman, whose message was presented by Mr Adams Jatto, also appealed to government agencies as well as industry stakeholders to increase the tally for girls, to enable them to tap the potential in the maritime industry.
A retired Navy Captain, David Ogah, called for a redefined maritime policy in the country that would take cognisance of women participation.
He urged the government to address the maritime security to enable the female participants to be consistent and dedicated to their duties.
The Director of Special Duties of NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka, advised maritime women to embrace teamwork for better leadership positions in the sector.
“Women are much more than beauty, they have brains, brawn and ideas and so they should make use of it,” she said.
The President of WIMA Nigeria, Hajia Bola Muse, urged government to put in place policies that would empower women in the maritime sector.
According to her, there is need for government to work with the association to come up with policies and programmes that would accelerate gender equality and empowerment of women in the maritime sector.
“There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies and even countries, as countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.
“It is imperative that stakeholders in the maritime community kick-off an aggressive campaign to encourage more female participation in seafaring and maritime trade,” she said.
Muse said that to also address the imbalance, government agencies and private sector investors must be deliberate about increasing the tally of women in the sector.
She said that there was the need to encourage young girls to take interest in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in order to pursue careers in shipping, marine operations and the engineering sub-sector.
WIMAfrica is to promote collaboration among national, regional and international maritime organisations.
The association works to ensure the advancement of gender equality in the maritime sector and support mainstream women participation in all aspects of the Blue Economy.