• Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Increase investment to grow maritime sector contribution to GDP – SIFAX boss

Increase investment to grow maritime sector contribution to GDP – SIFAX boss

For Nigeria to grow the contribution of its maritime sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), there is a need to invest more in the development of the sector, Taiwo Afolabi, chairman of SIFAX Group, has said.

According to him, Nigeria needs to shift to other critical sectors such as the maritime industry especially now that the nation is transitioning to a non-oil-dependent economy.

Speaking in Lagos at the weekend on the theme ‘The Maritime Roadmap Project: Making Nigeria a Leading Maritime Nation in the World,’ at the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) Conference 5.0, Afolabi said the dwindling oil revenue in recent years and the huge potentials locked in the maritime sector make it imperative for government to show better commitment to the industry.

“Despite the growth witnessed in recent years including the development and approval of various deep seaports, the springing up of inland container depots, and linking of seaports with rail lines, maritime is still facing major problems, slowing down its growth and impact,” Afolabi, who was represented by Bode Ojeniyi, the managing director of Sky Capital, has said.

He listed the challenges facing the maritime industry, including the infrastructural deficit, foreign exchange bottleneck, insecurity on waterways, low level of technology adoption and deployment, and inconsistent policies, among others.

He added that if well harnessed, the maritime industry has the potential to become a major revenue earner for the country.

Read also: Oil operators’ corporate governance structure to lift service firms’ confidence – GPPSL

Presenting the keynote on the topic, ‘Measurable Stride in the Nigerian Maritime Industry: Forging a Path towards Sustainable Shipping,’ Temisan Omatseye, the former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said Nigerian shipowners carry only 2 percent of export and import cargo while foreigners carry the remaining 98 percent.

He said the failure of Nigerian shipowners to take control of the supply chain as it relates to shipping must be considered a national risk because the country cannot totally depend on foreign shipowners who basically determine the freight rates.

Omatseye condemned Nigeria’s reliance on foreign vessels to carry its minerals and other exports, which their determined rates are higher than market rates making Nigeria’s goods uncompetitive in the international market.

He said that previously, a tanker that used to bring petroleum products at $20,000 per day for charter, now charges Warri $55,000 and Calabar $89,000 per day.

He said Nigerian shipowners should be given the criteria to register as a national carrier in line with Section 35 of the NIMASA Act. He added that this would allow them to take advantage of federal law to carry state, and local government cargo, both liquid and bulk.

TAAM is a maritime summit organised by the Maritime Forum of UNILAG’s Law Faculty in partnership with the SIFAX Group.