With 60% of cargo coming to West and Central Africa ending up in the country and also, having the largest wet cargo in Africa, it is obvious that Nigeria should play a leading role in maritime development on the continent.
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, affirmed this much in a chat with newsmen in Port Harcourt, where he stressed that Nigeria is hosting 3rd Conference of Association of Heads of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) in order to reassert herself in world maritime activities.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari is expected to declare the conference open, just as a new NIMASA brand will be unveiled with maritime administrations from Norway, Netherlands, Malaysia, Jamaica, among others present.
He further revealed that should Africa get its maritime potentials right; the continent is capable of realising no less that N100bn annually which would go a long way in helping to grow and develop economies.
According to him, “It is unfortunate that Africa accounts for only 5% sea trade globally. Whereas we generate so much cargo, there are no African vessels conveying our cargo from Africa to the rest of the world and from the rest to the world to Africa, which is worrisome.
“African maritime domain is still dominated by foreigners as seafarers and so the earlier we begin to build that African capacity, the earlier we begin to build an African fleet, the better for all us. And to lead this are our maritime administrations and so we are gathering in Abuja.”
“For the first time on Nigerian soil, we will be hosting all African maritime administrations and stakeholders. 33 countries have confirmed participation and for three days in the city of Abuja, we will be discussing African maritime. Recall that last year, Heads of Government in Africa came together to adopt the Lome Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development wherein they all agreed to make maritime the main driver of economic development within the continent of Africa.
“Recall also that the Africa Union had adopted and revised the African Charter on Maritime Transport as well as Agenda 2063 with a set of seven aspirations where African leaders want Africa to be in 2063 and the African Integrated Maritime Strategy 2015 on how we intend to integrate all our strategy in Africa to curb piracy and sea crime.
“Maritime has the ability to drive economic development in Africa, of the 54 countries in Africa, 38 are littoral states or island states. Africa is the second biggest planet on earth in terms of landmass; in terms of population, we are second to Asia. In terms of our market share of world economic activity, we are nowhere.
“All of those conventions, charters and instruments signed by African leaders, (and) to give effects to it are our various maritime administrations in Africa. So we are coming together to work out a uniform template to give effect to those things as well as to carry out peer review of how we perform our functions.”
On what Nigeria stands to gain by hosting the conference, the NIMASA boss explained that with bilateral and multilateral organisations, in addition to shipping companies in attendance, the country will be able to seal many deals including capacity building and sea time experience for cadet seafarers.
Nigeria is also putting herself forward to be elected into the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council and would use the conference as a leverage.
“60% of cargo coming to West and Central Africa will end up in Nigeria meaning we are a major stakeholder. We have more wet cargo traffic than any country in Africa. It is important that we take leadership.
“Nigeria is presently training more cadet seafarers in the world than any other country in Africa and we have been asking for sea time for them. Sea time experience is an important component of their training. Many of the shipping companies will be participating in this conference and we will have the opportunity to strike deals with them to provide sea time experience for our young cadets,” he stressed.
•Photo shows NIMASA DG, Dr Dakuku Peterside.