“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” -Alan Lakein
China is the world’s largest ship-building nation, providing the majority of the global bulk tanker fleet, with an order backlog worth over $80 billion. However, China is not resting on its oars as the nation remains keen on repositioning itself to go head-to-head with Korea, which leads the value-added, high performance ship-building market.
The Chinese government has developed and approved an ambitious maritime sector plan which they called “Made in China 2025”. The government has taken several gigantic steps towards ensuring that the “Made in China 2025” initiative is attained. One of the brave steps is the Issue 55 legislation, a document introduced by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China.
Issue 55 highlights the government’s plan to modernize the country’s ship-building sector as new industry guidelines with tougher environmental, safety and employment regulations will be introduced and any shipyard that fails to meet the requirements of the new legislation could see its license revoked.
Another daring step by the Chinese government was to merge two of the nation’s shipping giants – COSCO Group and China Shipping Group (CSG) to form the China Cosco Shipping Corporation Limited which boasts a combined fleet of 1,114 ships of various types.
The China Cosco Shipping Corporation is focused on “6+1 industrial clusters” which are shipping, logistics, finance, equipment manufacturing, shipping services, socialized industry, plus business related to the Internet Plus initiative based on business innovation.
Chinese shipyards are now tasked with designing vessels with technology at the forefront in order to reduce operator costs over time as well as build more efficient ships. This shows that the country is committed to competing in the marine industry at a global level in the long term. Can one say the same about Nigeria?
In Nigeria, the norm is to organize wonderful annual maritime conventions were several key issues are raised, inspiring suggestions are made and great policy initiatives deliberated, only for the stakeholders to reconvene the following year to share the same views with very little or nothing achieved.
Recently, many stakeholders in the maritime sector gathered for the 2016 Nigerian Maritime Summit organized the Nigerian Shippers’ Council in collaboration with TELL magazine, several pertinent issues were raised and analyzed during the conference with the theme: “Exploring Opportunities in Nigeria’s Maritime Industry”. There was a similar and equally inspiring African Maritime Conference organized by the African Ship-owners Association in the same week and the topic: “Financing the African Fleet”. What would we have achieved by the time we reconvene for the 2017 segment of these meetings?
These thoughts should be flowing through the minds of every key leader in a maritime agency or association. These views should also be shared among the rank and file in the various maritime institutions as well as the numerous industry stakeholders. What would we leave for posterity as a Nigerian maritime industry?
By Kenneth Jukpor