During a roundtable discussion in Lagos on advancing sustainable development in Nigeria marine and blue economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, conveyed the Federal Government’s reassurance to local shipowners that the restructuring of national shipping lines would not adversely affect their operations. The reasoning behind the ministry’s choice to explore the revitalisation of the country’s shipping line through a well-planned public-private partnership emerged from their aspiration to secure a noteworthy portion of the country’s lucrative $10 billion ship charter market annually.
He primarily emphasises that the objective of this initiative is not to hinder the progress of local players but rather to empower them by enhancing their involvement in the industry and enabling them to gain more benefits. Oyetola elaborated that it will also enhance the capabilities of local businesses in shipbuilding, maintenance, and repairs. By doing so, they will be better equipped to make the most of the advantages offered by the Cabotage Act. This act provides Nigerians with exclusive control over maritime trade produced within the country.
The sector holds significant investment and economic possibilities.
In addition, he expressed the Federal Government’s firm commitment to reviving the country’s shipping line by forming the said collaboration between the public and private sectors. The minister also clarified that the purpose of the roundtable meeting was to unite stakeholders in the sector for discussions and to devise a strategic plan that would propel the industry forward. This plan would not only enhance the sector’s capabilities but also encourage investments in the sustainable Blue Economy and maintain international competitiveness.
Other African nations admire Nigeria impressive stature on the continent. Therefore, Oyetola highlights the immense significance of Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy, emphasising its invaluable contribution to promoting, driving, and pushing the nation’s sustainable economic growth. Covering 853 kilometres along the Atlantic Ocean and encompassing a vast network of potentially navigable waterways, extending across 10,000 kilometres and interconnecting 28 out of its 36 states, Nigeria Marine and Blue Economy emerges as a foundational sector with transformative potential.
Strong collaboration is needed between private and public organisations.
A significant aspect of the maritime industry centres around the imperative collaboration between public and private entities. Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation/Marine and Blue Economy, strongly underscores the significance of establishing a robust partnership within this sector. Speaking further, she highlighted the crucial part played by this industry in the generation of substantial income, promotion of commerce, and serving as a vital driver for sustainable economic growth and development.
She added that the nation possesses numerous aquatic resources and exceptional economic zones, rendering it an inherent centre for shipping and international trade for several hard-to-reach by-sea neighbouring countries in Western and Central Africa. She emphasised the importance of conducting a stakeholder engagement roundtable to ensure that the ministry could effectively address challenges and collaborate with others in generating innovative and sustainable solutions. This interactive forum aimed to pave the way for a technologically advanced maritime industry while charting a clear roadmap.
Ideas are gathered towards the sector roadmap and policy direction.
Lastly, Oyetola, who is also the former governor of Osun State, stresses the significance of active involvement in the sector’s progress, as it provides a platform for stakeholders to collaborate and present valuable insights that can drive its success. To achieve these priorities, the ministry has taken an additional measure by establishing this roundtable discussion with the purpose of gathering ideas that will contribute to their roadmap and policy direction. Henceforth, their focus will be directed towards fortifying maritime administration, revolutionising port procedures, improving port facilities, and fostering investments in the blue economy, as he highlighted.