Nigeria moves to protect West Africa’s $286b maritime trade
• New transport plan, strategy underway, says Buhari
The spate of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is posing a serious threat to import and export trade worth $286 billion in West Africa, stakeholders have disclosed.
Speaking at the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Abuja yesterday, the players called for collaboration among the concerned nations to tackle the menace.
Already, Nigeria has offered to lead the way, with the mulling of a new maritime transport plan and strategy.
President Muhammadu Buhari who disclosed this at the event themed, “Managing and securing our waters”, noted that the proposed plan would “provide a robust framework for achieving Nigerian maritime objectives.
The Gulf of Guinea is estimated to have 470 million consumers with $180.5 billion exports and $105.7 billion imports.
Buhari noted that the strategy would foster public-private sector collaboration and inter-regional cooperation on maritime security in Africa.
Represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, the president said: “the Gulf of Guinea today is at the epicentre of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region.”
He said statistics had shown that efforts to tackle the challenge by the governments in the region were yielding result.
“The convening of this conference here in Nigeria is an indication that we will not relent in our efforts to rid our waters of piracy. To succeed in our objective, a collective effort from all stakeholders is essential,” the Nigerian leader added.
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, noted that the absence of a legal framework among member states was posing a major hindrance to regional effort to stem maritime insecurity.
Speaking through the Minister of State, Gbemisola Saraki, Amaechi pointed that Nigeria had the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to tackle piracy and related crimes within its domain.
He said given that 90 per cent of international trade is by sea, ensuring safety on the waters was non-negotiable.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General of International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, lauded Nigeria for spearheading the fight against piracy in the region.
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