Nigeria’s maritime sector is set to attain new heights, convert it’s numerous shipping potentials into economic gains to attain regional hub status with the Nigerian International Maritime Summit (NIMS), as stakeholders team-up to address the numerous shortcomings in the sector.
Stakeholders shared this optimism at a press conference ahead of the maiden NIMS event expected to lead to the creation of virtual clusters for Nigerian maritime services, which does not presently exist in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer, NIMS and Senior Partner Akabogu & Associates, Mr. Emeka Akabogu stressed that the essence of NIMS is to develop Nigeria’s maritime sector and attain the African maritime hub by deliberate practical steps.
“The essence of this conference is to ensure that we can all see and know all categories of Nigerian maritime sector operators and service providers. We want to be able to identify partners in-country and abroad. NIMS will set specific timelines for the Nigerian maritime clusters to be achieved. Ship owners, importers, stevedores, terminal operators, Master Mariners, ship building and repair yards, lawyers, financial services are represented actively participating,” he said.
Akabogu said the summit, which would hold from October 5 to October 6, 2021, was the only ‘whole-of-value-chain’ business event for international organisations, policy makers, regulators, development organisations, operators, service providers and consumers in the industry.
He noted that most maritime countries had identifiable maritime clusters, which essentially was an aggregation of identifiable and credible service providers across the industry value chain, who could be readily called upon.
According to Akabogu, this requires deliberately building profiles, developing a database and ensuring that representation cuts across the industry.
He stressed that although the country had coveted maritime hub status in the West and Central Africa sub-region for decades, not much had been done to harness the immense potentials and stimulate the required activity; however, he opined that there is hope for the nation to attain maritime hub.
The CEO said the two-day hybrid-format event would feature a host of speakers, including Mrs. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; Minister of Transport, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi; Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the NIMS Governing Board, Barr. (Mrs.) Mfon Usoro stated that she was delighted with the personalities behind NIMS and confident that the team would succeed and surpass similar programmes initiated in the past.
According to Usoro, the upcoming NIMS is strategically focused on few sectoral issues to make Nigeria a maritime superpower and regional maritime hub.
She stressed that the summit is also timely as Nigeria prepares for the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Governing Council elections that would take place later this year.
“We have organized NIMS in such a way that we aren’t packing too many topics into the two-day conference. We are having two major topics per day so that the experts would have sufficient time to deal with the issues,” she said.
Noting that several industry conferences have provided worthy recommendations that were never implemented, she opined that NIMS would learn from the failures or shortcomings of previous engagements with a view to positively impacting the industry.
Also leading presentations at the event are; Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, Africa Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, and Mr Binyah Kesselly, Immediate-Past Director General, Liberia Maritime Authority.
Thematic issues that would come under focus include growing Nigeria’s Merchant Fleet with insights revolving around ship financing, ship repair, shipyards, seafarer training and development, Maritime Domain Awareness and Protection; Blue Economy and preservation of Marine environment and Security for commercial shipping and other maritime activities.
On his part, a board member of NIMS and Chairman of Starz Group, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun noted that the event would also highlight the country’s agenda for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) with focus on the maritime component.
According to him, the NIMS is an opportunity to revive the Nigerian maritime sector and position it to become Africa’s maritime hub.
He, however, implored the press to project the good of the NIMS and the maritime sector to further develop the nation.