From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara yesterday urged African maritime administrations to close ranks and tackle the challenge of illegal and unregulated maritime activities that rob the West African sub-region a whopping $1.3 billion annually.
Speaking in Abuja at the opening of the 3rd Association of African Maritime Administrations’ (AAMA) conference on Thursday, the Speaker said a coordinated exploration and exploitation of vast maritime resources of Africa hold the key to the continent’s development.
He implored maritime administrations in Africa to tighten their legislative, legal and regulatory frameworks to tap the huge maritime potential on the continent.
Dogara also called for improved inter-Africa trade and commerce, lamenting that foreign dominance of Africa’s lucrative shipping business was not a soothing development.
According to him, the Africa’s fishing industry, which is poorly regulated, is worth over 2 billion euros.
“We need to intensify intra-Africa shipping and fishing business. It’s worth 2bn Euros. This will help Africa reap its economic potential. As legislators, we will make laws to boost businesses in the country and beyond.
“NIMASA has domesticated 12 International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Conventions to encourage safety and security. We are involved in legislations and just last week, we passed the National Transport Commission (NTC) bill to ensure better regulation of the industry.
“We need to develop our transport system, create employment for our youths and grow our economies. Nigeria is a potential maritime power considering the vast deep seas and oceans.
“Days of paying lip service to the maritime sector especially as it concerns seamen and vessel owners are over. Africa must lift and control all the cargo it generates. Africans should come first and then others. This is no longer the time Africa will make the beds and then others will lie on it. Now, Africa has to make the beds and Africans will lie on it”, he charged the delegates.
In his welcome address, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside said hosting the conference was a great privilege considering that attendees are influential men and women who call the shots in Africa’s maritime sector.