By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to provide solutions to the problem of ship finance in Nigeria, the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are set to enter partnership to develop a sustainable approach to addressing the challenges.
Both agencies reiterated their commitment to growing the nation’s shipping sector at the maiden edition of Nigeria Maritime Finance Fair in Lagos, organized by journalists under the auspices of Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON), yesterday.
BoI also called on NIMASA to partner with it in the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF), noting that the fund was crucial to capacity building for local operators in the maritime industry and guaranteeing economic growth for the nations.
The Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Kayode Pitan also revealed that it had disbursed $82m to some indigenous investors in the country for the purchase of vessels and support of companies involved in ship repairs and allied investments from a $200m fund under Nigeria Content Intervention (NCI) Fund.
Pitan, who was represented by Mr. Victor Agina at the event, admonished ship-owners to take advantage and opportunities that exist in BOI, even as he stressed that the institution would continue to solicit support from the maritime operators.
According to the BoI boss, the funds provided by the bank have created 3,117 direct and indirect jobs across the country; adding that borrowers under the NCIF scheme are entitled to loan facilities with a five year tenure inclusive of one year moratorium.
Meanwhile, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, also reiterated his agency’s commitment to ensuring the end of waiver regimes within its earlier stipulated timelines.
Dakuku who was represented by the Director in charge of Cabotage Services, Mr. Victor Egejuru stated that efforts are being made for upgrading of existing shipyards and support for new shipyard facilities in the country.
He added that the delay in disbursement of CVFF also has to do with ongoing amendment in the Cabotage Act, expressing optimism that the 9th National Assembly will expedite action on the legislation
Earlier, the President of AMJON, Mr. Paul Ogbuokiri called on the government to ensure diversification of the nation’s economy, citing the maritime sector as a viable option.
Ogbuokiri stressed that the maritime sector was capital intensive with long term gestation period, hence he advised banks to go into partnerships and consortiums to fund deep-pocket projects in the sector and ease the risk burden.
He urged the Federal Government to provide single digit loan facility for shipping and called on NCDMB to broaden its current developmental finance funding to the local operators in the maritime industry.
The AMJON President also admonished BoI to leverage on its competencies and help finance Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are expected to emerge as a result of the expected boom, following NIMASA’s resolve to end Cabotage waivers in the next five years.