Nigeria’s Participation In Shipping Industry Dismal–Experts
Stakeholders in the Nigeria’s maritime sector have described the nation’s participation in the shipping industry as dismal and discouraging.
Findings by LEADERSHIP have also showed that with an average of 4,000 vessels calling at Nigerian seaports annually, only a paltry 318 representing 0.06 percent were owned by Nigerian shipowners. According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), on the Nigerian Ports from 2012 to 2017, it reflected that ship traffic at the Nigerian ports recorded a total of 5,369 in 2013 to 5,349 in 2014. In 2015, the figure dropped to 5,090 and reduced drastically to 4,025 in 2016.
While in 2017, 4,175 ocean going vessels with 131,569,821 gross registered tonnage was recorded against 4,622 ocean going vessels with 134,2,13,076 gross registered tonnage in 2016. Speaking at the post economic outlook quarterly verdict organised by a maritime based publication, MMS Plus tagged: Post-Election Economy:
Exploring strategies for growth, recently, the chairman of the Nigerian Port Consultative Council (NPCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin, said out of every 5,307 vessels that call at Nigerian ports, only 0.06 percent are owned by indigenous operators which he said has affected the development of Nigerian shipping sector.
However, he called for the introduction of a deliberate shipping development policy for the count to change its dismal status in the shipping industry.
He said: “I think the mix is that number of Nigerians who are operators in the industry, those running the industry and owns all categories of ships whether tankers, badges, tug boats, service boats or ship in the oil and gas sector are less than 100.
“It is clear and we have said it that there must be shipping development policy and that is one of the reasons why the shipping policy was established in 1987.
Then, there was a shipping policy that so much cargoes must go to Nigerians and once you have cargoes, you will be encouraged to have ships because if you have ships and no cargoes, you go underground.
“But the important thing is that if there is that large volume of trade, then there would be a huge demand for shipping services, that is why we have such number of ships calling and there is a very dismal percentage of participation by Nigerians because of lack of capacity.’’
Folarin urged government to make Nigeria’s maritime sector a preferred sector by providing low incentives for acquisition of vessels. He also advised the local shipowners to seek other various mode of financing acquisition of assets instead of relying on the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF).
“What we need to do is to fine tune our shipping development policy and that will help because shipping development means cargo allocation, investment in the sector, incentives also in the sector, low interest rate like it’s done in agriculture.
Government should also make the maritime sector to be a preferred sector in and provided fund for in the banking industry.
“How many ships can the CVFF procure? My view is that people have over emphasised the change agents the CVFF will be and it is not exactly the messiah, but I advised shipowners to look at ship finance in a very holistic way and not from government alone.
“They should look at ship finance with other models of financing.
There are other models of financing, and we must look at other models of accessing finance for ship building, ship acquisition, so they shouldn’t depend in CVFF.’’
Also speaking, the Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria (SOAN) advised the government to set up a long term development plan for ship acquisition if it truly want to belong to ship owning nations of the world. In a chat with LEADERSHIP, the newly elected president of the association, Dr. McGeorge Oyung, said the vessels calling at the country’s seaports are owned by countries that have invested heavily in ship building and acquisition.
He said: “I don’t want to take the job of NPA MD, NIMASA DG or National Content MD but the truth of the matter is that 5,307 vessels are owned by ship-owning nations like Greece, Portuguese so, we can’t own the number of ships they have but we must begin to make effort to have our own ships.
We can’t stop any ship from coming to our port because the ocean belongs to no one. Experts also said that unfavourable economic policies and lackluster maritime administration may have resulted in painful reduction in the number of vibrant indigenous shipping companies operating in Nigeria in recent years.
No fewer than 90 per cent of shipping companies owned by Nigerians have completely shut down their operations and out of shipping business. Shipping companies such as Equatorial Energy, Oceanic Energy, Morlap Shipping, Peacegate, Pokat Nigeria Limited, Al-Dawood Shipping, Potram Nigeria Limited, Joseph Sammy, Genesis Worldwide Shipping and Multi-trade Group are all out of business thereby contracting indigenous shipping companies’ participation in the sector over the years.