FG ‘ll boost blue economy with $US10bn from shipping – Oyetola

Nigeria’s blue economy Tuesday received a major boost as the federal government revealed plan to re-establish a National Shipping Line from which it hopes to capture the substantial part of the $US10 billion available within the industry in the country.

Minister of Marine and Blue Economy Adegboyega Oyetola said this in Lagos at a stakeholders’ roundtable on “Advancing Sustainable Development in Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy.”

The minister said the federal government was ready to embrace the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models to transform the sector.

He was quick to add that the initiative would not in any way impede the growth of local players

Rather, he said, it would provide an avenue for them to create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs. 

The minister said the forum was convened to bring together players in the sector to discuss and chart a roadmap/direction that would advance the industry’s potential, promote sustainable blue economy investments and ensure global competitiveness within the sector.

He noted that the model, a collaborative synergy between the private sector’s efficiency and the public sector’s oversight, would  bring about transformative impact on the marine and blue economy as well as boost the creation of substantial job opportunities and the facilitation of increased trade and investment in the nation, reinforcing the ministry’s collaborative and forward-looking approach.

Oyetola said: “There is an urgent need for a collaborative effort to brainstorm and devise strategies to leverage our marine resources for the betterment of the economy and safety of our planet. It is imperative we come up with practicable ways of ensuring that our Inland Rivers, Lakes and Waterways are well utilised for cargo shipment and passenger transportation. 

“This Engagement Forum is crucial to the development of the sector as it offers an opportunity for us all to collectively contribute our perspectives, ideas and offer relevant inputs that can propel the sector to the trajectory of success necessary to support the development of the economy as well as meet the expectations of Mr. President who took the courage to open up Nigeria to focus on the Blue Economy Value Chain.

“The zeal for a better life for Nigerians propelled President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR to recently unveil 8 Presidential Priorities to address critical national challenges. These priorities are to be delivered through 8 focus areas, namely: economic growth, food security, energy and natural resources, infrastructure development, security, healthcare, education, improved governance, and job creation.

“Our Ministry though new, is not resting on its oars and has continued to foster Inter-Agency collaborations and implement initiatives to promote Port efficiency, cargo shipment, maritime security and tap into the resources of the Seabed.

“The ministry’s decision to consider the re-establishment of a National Shipping Line, through a strategic PPP arrangement, is borne out of our desire to capture a substantial share of the estimated $10 billion annual ship charter market within the country.

“This initiative will not seek to impede the growth of local players but rather to provide an avenue for them to create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs. This would enable our local businesses to better leverage the Carbotage Act, which gives Nigerians the exclusive right to control locally generated seaborne trade. 

“Other anticipated outcomes include the creation of substantial job opportunities and the facilitation of increased trade and investment in the nation, reinforcing our collaborative and forward-looking approach.”

Oyetola also said in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Eight Presidential Priorities to address critical challenges, “the ministry will play a crucial role and take advantage of Nigeria’s expansive coast line stretching over eight hundred and fifty three (853) kilometres along the Atlantic Ocean and a network potentially navigable waterways covering ten thousand kilometres (10,000km) across the Twenty Eight (28) of her 36 States to foster sustainable economic growth of the nation.”

He urged the stakeholders to put in their best and come out with actionable ideas and blueprint to transform the sector.

The minister, who said he’s acquainted with the sector’s challenges, assured of his commitment to “bequeathing to Nigerians a better sector than we have met today.” 

He assured that the Stakeholders’ Engagement would  be a continuum, “since it is important that we normalise this harmonious synergy and work together to ensure that our industry is safe, reliable and sustainable.”

PS Ajani on rationale

Also speaking at the event, Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transport and Maritime Administration, Mrs Margaret Ajani, said the forum was needed to enable  stakeholders chart a roadmap for a maritime industry that is sustainable, innovative and  technologically advanced.

She said the forum was created to inform, equip and enable stakeholders share knowledge on critical issues affecting the maritime sector.

Ajani noted that Nigeria’s maritime sector is blessed with vast potentials of both natural and human resources that can drive economic development in Nigeria. 

“Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Maritime Sector is a major source of revenue earnings for the country, an enabler of trade and a key engine of economic growth and sustainable development.

“Nigeria is blessed with so much aquaculture and so has an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), making it a natural hub for shipping and international trade for most landlocked neighboring nations in West and Central African region.

“Our Maritime industry is also blessed with many experts including captain of maritime industries, indigenous ship owners, terminal operators, freight forwarders, shipping lines, barge operators, maritime lawyers, stevedoring companies, women groups etc who are in this hall today and have paid huge sacrifices in advancing the Nigerian Maritime Industry to its presence state,” she stated.

Some areas of discussion at the roundtable bordered on strengthening the Blue Governance; Transforming Port Operations; Enhancing Port Infrastructure; and Promoting Blue Economy Investments.