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Chamber of Shipping engages key stakeholders on policy focus to grow Nigeria’s shipping sector

The Panel: L-R; Dr. Chris Asoluka, Mr. Taofeek Adegbite, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, and Mrs. Mfon Usoro during the Focus Group Meeting by The Nigerian Chamber of Shipping on Wednesday in Lagos 

Key stakeholders in a focus group meeting
convened by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping on Wednesday in Lagos, have agreed
that the shipping sub-sector needs an expanded policy framework to guide the
sector on a defined path of growth.

Themed ‘Nigeria Shipping Sector: A Catalyst
for Maritime Economic Growth,’ a panel of discussants chaired by Dr. Olisa
Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and an expert in maritime matters, in
various contributions, noted the need for the government to first accord the
maritime industry its due recognition for providing economic sustainability.

The panel comprised of Dr. Chris Asoluka, a
former Chairman of the Oil and Gas Free Zone, Mrs Mfon Usoro, a former Director
General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, and Mr. Taofeek
Adegbite, the CEO of Marine Platform, a top maritime industry player in

In her contribution, Mrs. Usoro said it was
sad that the government did not recognise the shipping sub-sector as one of the
key economic sectors for Vision 2020 as there was no working group set or
agency identified to direct and effect a shipping policy.

She said: “We are not doing sufficient work
to boost the shipping sector. Policy-wise, shipping does not have a mention as
a key economic sector. Working groups focused on areas identified, leaving out
shipping. But, all other areas mentioned as key sectors, depend on shipping.
So, we have to ensure that error is corrected.”

Part of Mrs. Usoro’s contribution, as
identified in the summary, was called for an efficient sector-specific approach
in policy development and implementation in the maritime sector, and need for
integration of sectors in transport, road infrastructure, rail for shipping
policy development.

She also spoke on the importance of Nigeria
deciding on an area and developing such area to become a global leader, be it
in manpower development for seafaring, shipping, ship finance and law, insurance,
shipyard, research and development amongs others.

On his part, Mr. Adegbite spoke on the
importance of the private sector, and  having good corporate governance.

He upheld the importance of regulatory
compliance and international best practices. because shipping is a global
business, and need to deal with negative perception.
According to him, the private sector should
drive development in shipping, so that the government can work in that

Adegbite also called attention to the
challenge of huge taxes by the Nigeria Customs Service on ship acquired by
Nigerians, while foreign ship owners work at an advantage bringing in ships on
a temporary basis and paying next to nothing compared to the indigenous

Contributions by Dr. Asoluka acknowledged
that the shipping target of the colonial administration of Nigeria promoted British
shipping interest, and called attention for Nigeria to begin to make the
cabotage work for the promotion of indigenous shipping as was aimed to.

His contributions also highlighted the fact
that Nigeria’s coastal trade still suffers foreign dominance even after years attempt
to have the cabotage create a market for indigenous shipping.

However, he pointed to the importance of differentiating
between policy as a roadmap and laws for implementing and enforcing that policy

At the end of the discussions, the
gathering resolved among other points action for comprehensive shipping policy
implementation for Nigeria, and for a focus on an area of comparative
advantage, than politicising steps for workable action.

They called for a focus on efficient and
sustainable training for seafarers to cover manpower development for industry
needs for short term, medium and long terms.
Other resolutions were that  there should be timeline strategy, like every
five years, that recognises ship development life-cycle, operations, building,
maintenance, financing.

President of the Chamber of Shipping, Mr.
Andy Isichei, said that as an advocacy group, the chamber had started on a
notable path of engaging the stakeholders that matter for decisive discussions.

He said the strategy would ensure that
issues pertaining to the growth and development of the sector are addressed and
actions taken.

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