By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has rued the high level of capital flight occasioned by inadequate participation of indigenous firms in cargo affreightment. Director general NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside disclosed this at the agency’s day at the on-going 30th Enugu International Trade Fair, organised by the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, ECCIMA.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, who was the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on maritime during his days at the green chamber was at the event. Speaking on the theme: “Cargo Support Initiative and Transport Logistics for Non-Oil Export Trade”, the DG said over the years, “Nigeria is known for exporting raw materials with little or no value addition at all.”
He maintained that the situation had robbed the nation of significant economic values and opportunities for growth and development. While noting that the situation was now different in the maritime industry, he noted that “there is insignificant indigenous participation in the entire cargo affreightment value chain.
“The results of this trade imbalance are capital flight, distorted balance of payments position of Nigeria, among other economic ills. For instance, conservative estimation puts the total freight earned from all import and export (inbound and outbound) vessels in Nigeria in excess of 8 billion naira but this huge amount was earned by foreign operators who have dominated international shipping activities in Nigeria.
“This is beside other values lost in the cargo affreightment and ancillary services in the value chain.” Peterside said to stem tide, the NIMASA had identified the sector as a critical component for effective economic diversification, a major policy thrust of the present Federal Government. He identified challenges facing indigenous shipping in Nigeria to include lack of cargo,
structural weakness, foreign dominance, ship agency, husbanding status, poor funding/ under capitalization, weak competitive disposition, poor equipment, low business activity, among others.
The DG said to grow indigenous capacity in shipping and contribute significantly to national GDP, “a well administered public sector cargo support initiative is imperative. “There is a compelling need and urgency to grow the real sector of the economy for value addition to the mineral and agricultural resources to ensure continuous cargo generation for affreight
ment.” He further stated that cargo support policy, which the NIMASA is pursuing vigorously “will help indigenous operators and shipowners to participate in the Nigeria shipping trade, hence the building of their capacities in shipping and growing the national economy.” In a remark, the ECCIMA president, Sir Emeka Udeze said the place of NIMASA in the development of the country’s economy was very important and key, especially in the maritime transport sector. He said it was fulfilling that “NIMASA is alive to her responsibilities