Posted on September 27, 2023
The urge to revamp the Nigerian economy is yet to be realised as the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, weekend, pointed out that Nigeria’s maritime sector needs urgent attention for economic growth and transformation.
This was the centrepiece of a webinar tagged ‘Pre-29th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES29) webinar’ with the theme ‘Sailing to Success: Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Potential’ organised by the NESG, which was attended by both public and private sector players in the maritime industry.
The NESG pointed out that Nigeria’s maritime sector has the potential to drive economic growth and transformation, but it faces several challenges.
Despite its vast coastline, Nigeria’s maritime industry needs to be more utilized and faces issues such as piracy, illegal fishing, inadequate infrastructure, and regulatory bottlenecks. These challenges have hindered the full realization of the sector’s potential.
In a welcome remark, a board member of the NESG, Nnanna Ude, said that maritime activities are critical in facilitating global trade and economic growth.
Ude further stated that Nigeria, as the most populous country in Africa and a key player in the region, holds a unique position in West Africa’s maritime landscape, noting that the country boasts a coastline of approximately 853 kilometres along the Gulf of Guinea, which provides ample opportunities for maritime trade and economic development.
He also maintained that a thriving maritime sector can contribute massively to long-awaited and desired economic diversification and inclusion.
However, he emphasized strongly that one of the industry’s critical challenges is a lack of comprehensive data that hinders policymakers from fully understanding the sector and its contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, which can also attract investors and operators.
Meanwhile, he acknowledged the creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, describing the establishment of the Ministry as a pivotal shift from the past and saying that it depicts the Tinubu-led administration’s intention to have a more coordinated approach that can potentially make the sector a catalyst for Nigeria’s economic transformation and development.
The Senate Committee Chairman on Marine Transport, Senator Wasiu Eshilokun Sanni, said in a keynote address that the committee is focused on identifying the areas of the maritime sector that can help Nigeria achieve its goals of economic diversification, noting that the committee will also employ modalities by embarking on actions that will attract private investment to inland waterways, even as he urged all stakeholders to collaborate to ensure the growth and development of the sector.
Also speaking, the Chief Operating Officer, COO, Maritime Innovations Hub, Princess Ronke Kosoko, said maritime trade in West Africa contributes significantly due to its strategic location for moving goods to and from Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Kosoko added that with Nigeria’s 853 km coastline, which provides ample maritime trade and development opportunities, the sector is bedeviled with various challenges, including illegal fishing, inadequate infrastructure, and regulatory bottlenecks, but if they are addressed holistically, the sector can contribute to economic diversification.
She also expressed optimism that Nigeria can leverage the vast opportunities and chart the course towards economic sustainability.
Meanwhile, during the panel session, which focused on ‘Deconstructing the Financing Conundrum: Innovating out of Long-Term Financial Constraints in the Maritime and Shipping Sector’, the Managing Director, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, Dr George Moghalu, represented by the Area Manager, NIWA Lagos, Sarah Buraimoh, said that a lot of evidence exists that shows that a thriving maritime sector could significantly contribute to Nigeria’s economic diversification and inclusivity goals.
Moghalu also notes that in 2018, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, reported that the maritime sector contributed about five percent to the country’s GDP, which provided employment to thousands of Nigerians.
He maintained that harnessing Nigeria’s maritime potential aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, particularly Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and Goal 14 (Life Below Water), and that sustainable maritime practices can foster economic growth while preserving marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko, represented by the General Manager, Operations, NPA, Engr. Durowaiye Ayodele, said that 70 to 80 percent of cargo is moved across the sea due to economic constraints.
“There are six ports in Nigeria and a private port in Lekki. NPA manages every aspect of the port, including port operations and cargo operations.
“Lagos ports handle 60 to 70 percent of trade vessels due to the security and infrastructural support services available around the ports, including the fact that Lagos is the commercial nerve centre and most industries are located between Lagos and Ogun States”, he said.
However, speaking in the same vein, Senior Engineer, Julius Berger, Engr. Sena Daramola, said that poor infrastructure is a significant problem because there is a deficit between infrastructure and the development of the ports.
Daramola said the need to develop road networks, improve rail systems, and improve inland waterways to serve the ports and the maritime sector cannot be overemphasized.
The 29th Nigerian Economic Summit, with the theme ‘Pathways for Sustainable Economic Transformation and Inclusion’, is scheduled to be held on the 23rd and 24th of October 2023, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.
According to NESG, in light of the urgency of translating economic growth into improved and sustainable living standards for all citizens, this year’s summit theme hints at Nigeria’s potential for sustainable development, leveraging innovative policies, robust institutions, strategic infrastructural investments, and human capital development.