- Says maritime sector key to sustainable development
As opposed to the drastically diminishing fortunes of global crude oil, the maritime sector is offering a wide range of new business opportunities – from clean energy to new modes of transportation, logistics and agriculture – as maritime cuts across almost all other sectors, the Chairman of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) Base, Mr. Ladi Jadesimi, has said.
Jadesimi, who chaired the 2019 Nigerian Shippers’ Council Annual Stakeholders Appreciation Night with the theme, “Global Maritime Industry: Untapped Potential for Growth and Wealth Creation,” said the global maritime industry holds a vast untapped potential for growth and wealth creation.
He noted that with a vast coastline the longest in West Africa, the Nigerian maritime sector could develop sustainable businesses that would dwarf the nation’s revenues from export commodities if the huge opportunities are nurtured and tapped.
He insisted that the growing reduction in crude oil patronage worldwide and the increasing pressure for cleaner and renewable alternative sources of energy have repositioned the maritime sector as key to Nigeria’s sustainable economic development.
According to him, if Nigeria develops the full potential within the sector across a range of industries, “the maritime industry holds the key to sustainable economic development. Whatever we do must be underpinned with strong local content – in today’s world, that starts with Nigerians owning, engineering and building the ships we use.”
However, “we have quite a large financial and capacity gap to fill for Nigerians to be in a position to own most of the vessels ploughing through our waters.
“Of course, we are all aware of the particular challenges militating against expansion of vessel ownership by Nigerians, the number one hurdle being access to long term finance at a reasonable price. Nonetheless, the opportunities here are considerable and more than sufficient to support the needed investment.”
He added: “Nigeria is ideally placed and suited to become the ship-building, repairs and maintenance hub for Africa. This will go hand in hand with shipbuilding. 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, wide-spread ship-building capacity in Nigeria along with manpower training, leading to gainful employment of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
“We should borrow a leaf from the Philippines – in many ways comparable to Nigeria in socio-economic terms. As a matter of public policy, over the years they have 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 to the Philippines year in year out.”
“Water transportation is one more area. Our water resources can be harnessed to power industrial development. Agricultural produce rot due to poor logistics and transportation options. With no efficient means to move them to the market, 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 waterways today with a fraction of the investment we would need to make into roads.”
He added that with continued government support and indigenous private investments, innovation and industrialisation, the boundless potential of the less-spoken about maritime sub-sector – the maritime agro industry, which includes fishing, shrimping and industrial processing for local consumption and export could add 30 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP.