Friday, 1st December 2023

FG hopeful of $6b inflow from seafaring business

By Adaku Onyenucheya
14 December 2022   |   4:04 am
The Federal Government has expressed hope that with continuous progress and better projections in the Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP), Nigeria will soon be among the major players in global seafaring business that earn over $6billion in forex inflow.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani (third left); Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo; Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh and Cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) during the sent-forth ceremony of 235 beneficiaries of the NSDP phase 3, TERRA II in Lagos.

FG hopeful of $6b inflow from seafaring business
The Federal Government has expressed hope that with continuous progress and better projections in the Nigerian Seafarers’ Development Programme (NSDP), Nigeria will soon be among the major players in global seafaring business that earn over $6billion in forex inflow.

This is just as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) secured admission for 400 cadets to be trained in two reputable maritime training institutions in Greece and India for four years.

Speaking at the flag off ceremony of the third phase of NSDP-TERRA 2 at the Naval Dockyard in Lagos last weekend, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, commended NIMASA for the giant strides made in advancing human capital development of the sector.

According to him, the collapse of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) created a gap in manpower development in the country, especially shipboard training and manning.

He said the NSDP initiative is targeted at training globally competitive officers that would stem the discrimination existing between local and foreign trained officers in seafaring profession.

Speaking further, Sambo said the choice of foreign maritime training institutions was mainly based on their capacity and certification in the area of International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

He, however, disclosed that efforts are ongoing in the area of upgrading local institutions to enable them take up the NSDP training in the near future.

Also, the Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said at some point, Nigeria was reported to have less than 10 seafarers on ocean going vessels, while countries like the Philippines had over 400,000 and currently earn $6 billion in forex inflow.

Jamoh said countries such as India, Indonesia and China also have their nationals all around the world working in the maritime industries, while expressing hope that Nigeria would soon be among the major players.

He said demand for seafarers in Nigeria has increased on account of Cabotage regime, which requires that vessels engaged in commercial trade and operations in the coastal and inland waters in the country be manned by Nigerians.

According to him, the expanding opportunities provided by the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects have also been a major boost for manpower demand of the sector.

He further added that with prospects for the commencement of operations of the Brass LNG, the expansion of the NLNG trains and the Olokola Gas project, manpower demand for that sector has doubled the existing number.

Jamoh noted that other prospects are the growing off-shore oil exploration and production activities, fishing sector, manning of inland waterway crafts and coastal tankers that have increased vessel requirements to meet demand in the sector.

“Overall, the prospects for the future of the Nigerian shipping industry remain very bright in spite of the manpower constraints. It is our hope that the NSDP scheme, will in the long run, increase the pool of Nigerian seafarers for export to other countries,” he said

Jamoh also stated that from inception to 2020, the NSDP has enrolled 2,041 cadets, noting that while 892 are now licensed deck and engine officers, including naval architects, the rest are in the final stage of the programme.

He also disclosed that 486 of the graduates are now gainfully employed and sailing in both coastal and ocean going vessels.

The President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. McGeorge Onyung, said seafaring is the biggest business in the world and the biggest non-oil export Nigeria could have without round tripping.

He said seafarers are major contributors to shipping business, which records profit of $16 trillion business a month, $43 billion a day, $1.8 billion an hour and $30 million in minutes.

Onyung said this is why a company like Maersk Line is recording $3 billion profit every month. And this income is consistent

He said indigenous ship owners are ready to cooperate with NIMASA to have berths on their ships for the cadets to complete their training and also get employed.

On his part, the Managing DIrector and Chief Executive Officer, Starzs Marine and Engineering Limited, Greg Ogbeifun, reminded the minister of his pronouncement of revisiting the issue of reestablishing Nigerian fleet, while appealing that it should not be abandoned for the sake of the cadets to have a future.