By Frank Odinukaeze
· Anaroke, Agbakoba, Capt. Iheanacho, Ajani, others bag Award
· Digitization will reduce cost of doing business -Dr. Membere
To meet up with the fast-changing trends in shipping and maritime activities globally, the International Maritime Organization(IMO) has been driving the world maritime community into leapfrogging into greener shipping to reduce carbon emission and embrace new technologies for faster and seamless port and shipping operations, albeit cost effectively.
The IMO marked the 2022 World Maritime Day(WMD) on Thursday, last week, with the theme: “New Technologies or Greener Shipping”, identifying opportunities, benefits and potentials in greener shipping and digitization of maritime activities.
Blue Economy has been found by experts to hold the ace for a more sustainable shipping and profitability in the emerging greener shipping and digitalization.
Expectedly, the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, keyed into the streams of opportunities with a gender appeal to establish that innovation and digitization are veritable instruments for sustainable shipping in Nigeria.
Speaking at the 2022 annual WISTA Business Luncheon and Magazine launch, with the theme, “Innovation and Digitization for Sustainable Shipping”, President of WISTA, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke, stated that shipping is a big business that needs to be harnessed using innovative digitization.
Mrs. Ezeoke stated that this year’s event centered around innovation and digitization and how it can be deployed to better position the nation’s maritime sector for profitability and seamless operations.
Ezeoke, highlighted some of the challenges confronting women in the shipping sector, noting that lack of access to finance is a major problem,but said with the increasing role of Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank and the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), women will have better access to finance.
She noted , “Shipping is a big business and we have to look at key areas that can guarantee sustainable shipping,” she said, noting that “A lot of businesses thrive on shipping, so we have decided to look at innovation and digitalization which is about bringing new ideas for efficiency and sustainability. Innovation and digitalization will curb the losses, delays and spur maritime businesses, hence, our focus on this topic”, she said.
Ezeoke said earlier that industry experts would deliberate on critical innovations to enhance maritime tourism and safety, among other pertinent shipping issues.
“WISTA is a women professional association that is in 58 countries, involving women in management positions in the maritime industry, and it came to Nigeria in 1994.
“It is about women promoting gender inclusivity in the industry, creating feasibility, capacity building, networking opportunities and career advancement in the profession.
“Annually, WISTA organises a business luncheon which is part of the sensitization in the industry and even outside the industry. Over the years, we have organized lectures to teach our members,” she said.
On women involvement in the industry, Ezeoke said that the industry needed more women as their level of participation was still low.
“We need more opportunities and leverage, so that we see how far and good women can perform and manage businesses in the shipping sector,” she said
In an interview with the guest speaker, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, who earlier had espoused the evolution of shipping and its immense contribution to humanity and global economy, said, “When we talk about World Maritime Day, we talk about greener shipping”. Greener shipping, he says is to reduce carbon emissions from ships.
“What we have today is a bigger aspect, because it’s not just greener Shipping we are talking about, we are talking about how to innovate and make ship efficient, safer, bigger and digitalized, to bring about end -to- end processing that is digitalized. And I’m happy the women are driving it from that point,” he said.
On the issue of cost of new technology to drive greener shipping, Dr. Membere asserted that digitization will reduce cost of doing business, ease of doing business, and efficiency of doing business. He said digitization will bring about synergy.
There are a lot of low hanging fruits that have not been captured, he said, stressing that, “If you go to Fair Way Bouy, you will see all our ships waiting there to berth.
Dr. Membere said new technology can be applied to fast track quick turn round of vessels, just like the airplanes.
“Airplanes do not come except there are passengers to be conveyed. It can be done here seamlessly. Our neighbors are doing it. I move containers to ECOWAS countries. Before we get there, maximum, a day or two, our vessels are inside and waiting to drop containers and turn around. But here they will wait for one month,” he said.
Also speaking to MMS Plus, Mr Alhassan Momoh, a maritime tourism expert ,who was one of the panelists during the technical session, stated that the world and it’s economy today is driven by Blue Economy. He said Blue Economy simply means sustaining the eco- system so that both the present and future people meet their economic needs and benefits.
“There are a seventeen sectors in the Blue Economy. One of them is the ports industry, the second is shipping, the third is tourism, and the fourth is dredging, and the fifth is aquaculture, amongst others. What we are saying is that Blue Economy should not only be in definition, it should go beyond it
Blue Economy in the whole world is the most successful sector. As long as the water is there, the economy is sustainable,” he said.
High points of the event were the unveiling of WISTA Magazine and presentation of Awards to deserving recipients.
Those honored with the WISTA award in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the growth of shipping, trading and logistics, women empowerment and capacity development, as well as exceptional leadership in Nigeria include, the Publisher of MMS Plus Newspaper, Mr Kingsley Anaraoke.
Others are: Dr.Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; former minister of interior, Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho; Dr. (Mrs) Magdalene Ajani, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation and former managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman.
In an emotion laden speech, Mr Anaroke, said words could not describe how happy he was to receive the award.
He said, “I have received so many awards, but this one is special. I never expected it. I therefore dedicate this award to my late wife, Promise Anaroke and to all the women”.
The technical session saw Mr Usman Shuaibu speak on environmental issue as it affects Blue Economy, amongst other issues.