Adegboyega Oyetola, minister of Marine and Blue Economy, has said that the ministry is set to embrace the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to set up a national shipping line that would allow Nigerians to earn from its $10 billion annual ship chartering market.
Speaking in Lagos on Tuesday during the Stakeholders’ Roundtable on Advancing Sustainable Development in Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy, Oyetola said adopting the PPP model will enable the ministry to transform the sector by providing an avenue for local players to create and extract more value from the sector, especially through ship construction, maintenance, and repairs.
According to him, it would enable local businesses to better leverage the Cabotage Act, which gives Nigerians the exclusive right to control locally generated seaborne trade.
“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,” Oyetola said.
Ship chartering is the hiring of a vessel and crew for a voyage between a load port and a discharge port. It is estimated that Nigerian businesses spend $10 billion annually to hire vessels from foreign shipping companies.
The minister said the PPP model will create a collaborative synergy between the private sector’s efficiency and the public sector’s oversight, which will bring about a transformative impact on the marine and blue economy and boost the creation of substantial job opportunities.
He said it will also help to facilitate trade and investment in the nation and reinforce the ministry’s collaborative and forward-looking approach.
“There is an urgent need 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 used for cargo shipment and passenger transportation,” he said.
The minister however said the forum was convened to bring together players in the sector to discuss and chart a roadmap and direction that will advance the industry’s potential, promote sustainable blue economy through investment, and ensure global competitiveness within the sector.
He said the engagement offered an opportunity to collectively contribute ideas to open up Nigeria to focus on the Blue Economy Value Chain in line with President Bola Tinubu’s agenda.
Earlier, Magdalene Ajani, permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation/Marine and Blue Economy, said the maritime sector is a major source of revenue earner for the country, an enabler of trade, a key engine of economic growth and sustainable development.
“Nigeria is blessed with so much aqua, and so, has an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) making it a natural hub for shipping and international trade for most landlocked neighbouring nations in West and Central African region.
“This roundtable is necessary as it enables us to present our challenges, and jointly brainstorm on the solutions with a view to chart a roadmap for a maritime industry that is sustainable and innovative. It will inform, equip, and share knowledge on critical issues affecting the sector and harness its opportunities for the benefit of Nigerians particularly as the new Administration has deemed it fit to showcase the potentials of the Marine and Blue Economy,” Ajani added.
Some areas of discussion at the Roundtable were strengthening blue governance; transforming port operations; enhancing port infrastructure; and promoting blue economy investments.