Former Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, Mrs. Mfon Usoro, has said that the deadweight of Nigerian-owned ships with foreign flags stands at 6.485 million tonnes compared to the 4.526 million tonnes carrying Nigeria’s flag.
Usoro told journalists in Lagos that the analysis proved that larger number of vessels owned by Nigerians prefer foreign flags, which, according to him, is a cause for concern.
The maritime expert explained that there was urgent need to drive the Nigerian maritime sector as a national development initiative, deploying incentives, tax waivers and zero import duties, just as in the aviation and other key economic drivers.
Her words, “According to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s total merchandise trade (import and export) for 2019 stood at N36.1bn, and the maritime transport component accounted for N33.7bn (about 90 per cent); a huge potential for the economy of the country. Despite the huge potential, no Nigerian-flagged vessel carried cargoes of the nation’s merchandise in the last 10 years.”
According to Usoro, amid government’s contribution to agriculture, energy, manufacturing and other sectors, the maritime sector is not recognised as a key economic driver, thus it misses out in very vital interventions from the government, unlike other sectors.
She added, “There’s need to come up with a deliberate maritime development plan for Nigeria’s fleet to seize a sizable market chunk of Africa’s merchandise within the next 10 years. It is imperative for government to prioritise ship ownership under the Nigerian flag, deploying the necessary incentives to make Nigeria’s registry attractive and to bring it to international standards.
“It’s equally important to develop the maritime support industries like technology, innovation, academia, finance, law and vital infrastructure like ports and ports connectivity, as well as cargo handling activities, among others.
“A holistic government approach was recommended, such that ministries of government, departments and planning agencies will collaborate with the maritime sector to integrate it into national policies and programmes.”
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