Mrs Mfon Usoro, former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has urged African countries to develop and direct their resources towards specific areas to enable them dominate the shipping industry in Africa.
Usoro, also the Secretary-General, Abuja Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), on Port State Control for West and Central African Region, made the call at the 2nd Transport leadership lecture in Lagos on Tuesday.
Usoro was the guest speaker at the lecture organised by the Kings Leadership Lecture and Awards with the Theme: Leadership in a “Next Level” Democracy, Striking A Positive Balance in Transport Sector.
According to her, African countries could be popular like other leading countries in the shipping business if they recognised all the means of transportation such as land, rail, water and air transportation systems.
She said there was need for all the African countries to strive to achieve synergy in the transportation sector.
She added that having integrated policy and linkages was the only way to make African countries a force to reckon with in the global maritime transportation system.
“It is commendable that Nigeria has concluded the draft on integrated transportation policy, some countries in Africa are yet to be integrated.
“There are four categories maritime nations can dominate such as Shipping, Maritime Finance, Maritime Logistic and Maritime Technology.
“China is leading under shipping, Singapore is leading in the area of maritime logistics, New York is leading in maritime finance, while South Korea is leading in terms of maritime technology.
“It is the country that distinguishes itself in a particular area that will gain advantage,” Osoro said.
She said Nigeria had a larger shipping market, which was being exploited by foreigners.
Usoro said there was need for African countries to be effective in all the conventions and regulations of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
She added that there should be a drastic improvement in maritime technology in cargo delivery, shipyards, ICTs knowledge, port and logistics to enable African countries to restructure, based on centralised and discentralised ports system.
Also speaking, Mr Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) said there had been positive efforts to achieve progress of the Cabotage law in the maritime sector.
According to him, about N100 billion was needed every year for the next 30 years, totaling N3 trillion, to reposition the sector.
“So, we should be undaunted by the challenges but rather we should be rejuvenated by the opportunities.
“We have to do a lot of things in the various sub sectors of the economy, and I think the African Continental Free Trade Agreement could be what we need,” Bello said.
The Chairman, Ports Consultative Council of Nigeria (PCCN), Mr Kunle Folarin, urged port users to strive to do the right thing and set the pace by themselves.
“As long as you are waiting for government to give the players incentive to develop the sector, you will wait for a long time,” he noted.
He said the sector had developed compared to 50 years ago when government was not the leading the sector, there was no National Shipping line and some operators were excelling in the shipping business.