The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, said Nigeria had not fully utilised the opportunities offered by the upstream maritime economy.
Bello-Koko said this at the conference of the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) held on Tuesday in Lagos.
Bello-Koko, represented by Mrs Oluwayemisi Oyinlola, General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, spoke on the theme “Nigeria and the Evolving New Port Order.”
According to Bello-Koko, this explained why the maritime sector had not contributed substantially to the Nigerian economy.
“Maritime activities are made up of downstream and upstream operations.
“Downstream operation is principally made up of port operation and bunkering, while the upstream consists of insurance, connectivity logistics and shipping activities.
“Ironically, Nigeria operates only in the port operation aspect of downstream operation. Even the port operation is not performing optimally due to a number of inherent challenges,” he said.
He pointed out that in an effort to reposition the Nigerian economy, particularly the maritime sector, the managers of the economy needed to pay requisite attention to the sector.
“For Nigeria to maximise the benefits of blue economy, both downstream and upstream operations have to be fully explored.
“Shipping business must be taken beyond mere vessel and cargo handling at the port, but must include other services such as bunkering, insurance, hinterland connectivity and others,” he said.
He said the complexity of the shipping industry and the need to become more competitive and cost-effective necessitated its continual change and adaptation to meet the demands of world trade.
He noted that the concern was how well Nigeria was prepared to measure up with the future trends of shipping such as digital sensoring, bigger mega ships and greener shipping.
Other shipping trends he listed as the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel and solar and wind power for ships.
He listed some initiatives by NPA to facilitate trade and position the ports towards the path of competitiveness as rail linkages, electronic truck-traffic call-up system, licensing of 37 Satellite Truck Parks and others.
He added that NPA had kick-started the process of establishing Port Community System (PCS) to bring together all stakeholders in the port community and facilitate ease of doing business at the ports.
He noted that the process was backed by the government through the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the technical assistance of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
According to Bello-Koko, NPA’s role is to position the port on the part of competitiveness with focus on quality port services and right pricing.
“This is what underpins trade facilitation ideals, which will ultimately expand the frontiers of trade and foster economic growth,” he said. (NAN)