By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has urged the government of Nigeria as well as those of West and Central Africa to give the maritime sector the priority attention it deserves, lamenting that despite the sectors capability of catalysing economic growth, it is still being relegated to the background.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside stated this yesterday at a 2-day regional workshop on United Nations Sustainable Development Corporation Framework which kick stated in Lagos.
The workshop which was organised by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and United Nations Econonic Commission for Africa (UNECA) with active support from NIMASA.
Peterside said the essence of the workshop was to ensure that African countries understand the need and process of mainstreaming maritime into their various economic development plans and give the sector priority in their budgeting processes.
Peterside noted that Nigeria as a country has aligned with the initiative from IMO to mainstream maritime transportation and the maritime sector in the economic planning and other strategic plans.
He said there has been a shift from looking up to other countries for assistance, to working with other countries in a collaborative manner.
“Nigeria is currently pursuing an economic diversification program, we are planning long term and we have taken a number of steps, we have clearly identified where we want to be as a country, we have identified pillars upon which we want to build that glorious future we are working towards, but unfortunately, maritime sector is not one of the critical pillars”
“This is a challenge we have to deal with because leaders don’t understand the critical role that maritime plays in facilitating economic growth”
“This workshop will help our people understand why it is important to mainstream maritime sector in economic strategies for our country” he said
He acknowledged the role of IMO in helping Nigeria develop a draft of its National Maritime Transport Plan and Strategy.
According to him, the policy is being facilitated by the Ministry of Transportation, and it has received a lot of inputs from various stakeholders. He urged the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to approve the document so that implementation can commence.
Speaking further on the essence of the workshop, the NIMASA boss described it as a “Process that would culminate into accelerated development for our people in East, Central and West Africa.
Nothing acts as catalyst to global trade more than the transportation network that supports the economy of that nation”
“Among all the modes of transportation, the one that facilitates trade most is the maritime transportation, 90% of trade is done via sea transportation, if you remove this from the life of a people, it simply means you are not ready for growth”
Also speaking, Director of Technical Corporation of IMO, Juvenal Shiundu revealed that the workshop was the fourth in its series held by IMO and that this was the second held in Africa.
First workshop was held in Chile in October 2018, Bangkok, Nairobi Kenya, and now Nigeria.He explained that the one held in Nairobi October 2019 was for Eastern and south African countries while this Lagos edition is for West and Central Africa.
Speaking, he said that “The African Union came up with the African Integrated Strategy 2050, and it has a chapter on the blue economy, right now, the African countries are realising that their is a lot to be achieved by developing the maritime sector and the blue economy”
On his part, Senior Regional Adviser for UNECA, Prof Martin Ndende said that sustainable development on blue economy has preoccupied the body in the last few years. He said that UNECA is currently assisting African countries to come together and sign the African Charter on Shipping, as well as creation of AMI charter 2050″
“UNECA has moved our experts to put together the Pan African Shipping Project. Between 2017 and 2019 we have financed assistance for Togo on development of its waters, we are also working recently to assist Gabon on their Nationa Maritime Policy and blue economy” Ndende stated