Ladi Jadesimi, chairman of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistic Base (LADOL), has stated that Nigerian maritime sector, has the capacity to add 30 percent to the nation’s GDP, if government continues to support real private indigenous companies to invest in industrialising the economy.
Jadesimi, who described the global maritime industry as one that holds vast untapped potential for growth and wealth creation, said the sector also holds the key to sustainable economic development in Nigeria, if adequately harnessed.
He stated this when he chaired the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) 2019 Annual Stakeholders Appreciation Night, held recently in Lagos.
“Having the longest coastline in West Africa gave Nigerian maritime sector vast untapped opportunities. Nigerian maritime sector needs to develop sustainable businesses that would boost the revenue realised from exporting commodities,” he said.
Globally, he pointed out, crude oil is increasingly being marginalised and huge pressure has continued to mount on the need to move away from using fuel to using cleaner alternatives, and renewable.
“At the same time, the maritime sector offers wide range of new business opportunities from clean energy to new modes of transportation, logistics and agriculture – because maritime cuts across almost all other sectors of the economy,” he said.
Jadesimi advised Nigerian businesses to consider strengthening their investments with strong local content involvement especially in today’s world – this can start with Nigerians owning, doing the engineering and building the ships used in-country.
“There is quite a large financial and capacity gap to fill for Nigerians to be in a position to own most of the vessels that are doing business on our waters. We are all aware of the challenges militating against expansion of vessel ownership by Nigerians. The number one hurdle was being able to access long-term finance at a reasonable cost. Nonetheless, the opportunities here are considerable and more than sufficient to support the needed investment,” he assured.
Emphasising that Nigeria is ideally placed and suited to become the ship building, repair and maintenance hub for Africa, Jadesimi stated that this will go hand-in-hand with ship building.
“Our local market alone can justify the investments and new facilities needed. This is also an industry that has a significant multiplier effect on long-term job creation. We can just imagine the enormous positive socio-economic impact of developing vibrant ship building capacity in Nigeria. This will come along with manpower training that would lead to gainful employment for hundreds of thousands of Nigerians,” he said.
He pointed out the need for Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the Philippines that has developed a very robust world-class merchant seamen training programme. “Today, there are tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of Pilipino merchant seamen deployed all over the world, who remit millions of dollars back to the Philippines year-in-year out.”
Water transportation, according to him, was another area where Nigerian water resources can be harnessed to boost industrial development. He said that agricultural products rot due to poor logistics and transportation options.
“With no means to move them to the market efficiently, the agricultural sector cannot compete globally. Roads are expensive to build and maintain. Thanks to the present government, the railways are rising again but will take time. We can make use of the water ways today,” he added.
Jadesimi also outlined the boundless potential of a less spoken about sub-sector in maritime, which is the maritime agro industry, including fishing, shrimping and industrial processing, for local consumption and export.
He reminded members of NSC and other captains of the industry present that the opportunities before them in the maritime sector would significantly move Nigeria forward by growing the private and public sector.