NIMASA seeks empowerment of local players in maritime sector
The Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency (NIMASA) has resolved to promote the concept of Blue Economy, in order to encourage indigenous stakeholders in the maritime sector.
NIMASA has flagged off a three-prong formula to kick-start the concept.
First, it has sought and obtained government commitment for a tax relief regime for ship-owners through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). With this incentive, indigenous ship owners can now acquire new building for local shipping trade and gradually build up their fleet at low cost.
Secondly, NIMASA is also working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), towards ensuring that ship-owners are given the grace and the enablement to participate in the affreightment of the nation’s crude. It therefore implies, that once local players can participate in the affreightment of the country’s crude, no matter how little at the beginning, stakeholders, would soon rally their acts together, and ingeniously evolve a fleet that would be both enviable and soaring.
Thirdly, the agency is also equally laying a noteworthy foundational collaboration with the Nigerian Local Content Development Board, diligently working on the letters of the NLCDB Act, which prescribes a fix percentage of indigenous participation, in all the relevant economic activities of the oil and gas industry.
NIMASA’s vision seeks to integrate the entire ocean economic development, through social inclusion, environmental sustainability and then linking other industry activities as a business model.
Having a coastline of about 850km bounded the Atlantic Ocean; also traversed by a myriad of river system, which provide about 4000 km of navigable inland waterways, covering an estimated area of 199,580 km and having a total landmark of 923,415 km square waterways, Nigeria is primed for a blue economy.
Before now, the story was that infrastructural deficit and funding challenges that hamper the idea of a blue economy, which generally involves marine transportation and exploitation of living and non living resources in the maritime environment. They include, marine animals, oil and gas. Other activities are; towage, salvage, passenger ferry services, dredging and cargo trade, be it liquid bulk, dry bulk and general cargo (feeder and inland transport). There are also others like maritime ancillary services (freight forwarding services, storage and warehousing, maritime agency services container depot services, marine insurance and training school for skill acquisition
A study conducted about six years ago by a Federal Government committee on the nation’s maritime trade revealed that enormous capital flight in excess of N1.5trn were lost annually. These exclude expatriates manpower cost estimated at N600b annually going by the report of the National Content Development and Management Board (NCDMB). The estimated total loss to the Nigerian economy in these areas, in terms of capital flight is huge and estimated well in excess of $14.60b in 2008 and $10.38b.
Every activity in the nation’s blue economy is a potential job and wealth creation for the country if all resources are well harnessed. This is what NISAMA is set to address. The economy can as well generate up to 5million jobs either directly or indirectly. The Jones Act of the United States has more than 35.000 indigenous vessels carrying more than one billion tons of cargo and over 100million passengers annually, these fleet generates nearly 125,00 jobs, 80,000 of which are aboard vessels and represent a $26b private sector investment in vessel and infrastructure.
According to the Federal Government Committee report earlier referred to, 5million jobs meant for Nigerian youths were lost to foreigners in the last few years, due to non-participation of indigenous ship-owners in the nation’s maritime transportation business.
According to the study, “sale of Nigerian crude at FOB negates Nigerian maritime insurance policy, which domesticates insurance of imports and exports. By this, Nigeria is currently losing N15b or $101m annually. It was further observed that out of the 457 vessels working in the upstream, where some vessels earn $85,000 a day, year in year-out, Nigerian ownership accounts for less than 8 percent, which is far less than 60 percent to 90 percent for transportation and shipping provisions respectively, in the Nigeria content Act, the Committee regretted.
Apart from the non-participation of Nigerian owned vessels in Maritime transport, the 457 foreign vessels operating within the Nigerian waters, have foreign crewmembers when teaming youths are roaming the streets, including professional mariners who have been excluded, because of lack of sea time experience.
This is due to the absence of a homegrown national maritime development strategy as envisaged in the Cabotage Act of 2003.
The crude oil sales on Free On Board (FOB) are strictly based on government policy and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation mainly complies with the policy. The situation can however change if a new policy directs the NNPC to contract the crude oil sales on Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF); in line with what obtains world- wide and if Nigerians would be willing to give its wealth creation policy another push.
However, many of the indigenous shipping companies have not been able to attract necessary funds to purchase good and quality vessels, coupled with their inability to sign technical agreement with international companies. So they continue to trade with their old and low quality vessels, thus attracting low patronage by the contract awarding agencies.
This is why the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) demands higher stakes for local investors in nation’s blue economy!