The Federal Government has said that domain awareness, infrastructure renewal, intra-Africa cooperation were necessary incentives needed to grow the maritime sector on the continent.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello stated this in Abuja in an exclusive chat with Daily Sun at the sidelines of the just concluded Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) conference.
According to him, intra-African shipping trade remains abysmally low despite the vast oceans and other maritime endowments the continent boasts of.
Bello said the third AAMA conference should serve as a wake up call for African nationals to synergize and form a formidable force to attract the needed international collaboration.
He lamented that intra-African trade in shipping stands at about 14 per cent, while shipping between Africa and Asia is about 47 per cent.
“It is even higher in Europe and that is why we are meeting as a continent under AAMA. Africa as a region must come together and form a strong bloc. When we form that one bloc and speak with one voice, then we can have a solid bargaining with the rest of the world. That is because we can now compete.
“With our vast maritime resources in Africa, we can harness them to create employment and generate foreign exchange. But we must know what we have and how it is exploited. Illegal fishing is going on daily in some African countries and they are not even aware. These illegal fishermen come, fish and leave our exclusive economic zones without paying a dime as charges or taxes. This sort of thing should be checked. In Nigeria, our desire has been to grow the economy via transportation and contribute handsomely to the GDP”, he said.
Bello said the Federal Government through the NSC and the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) was working assiduously with some African countries to establish the Sealink project solely to facilitate intra-Africa trade.
The NSC boss said a situation where cargoes originating from one African country and meant for another African nation may have to transit through Asia or Europe was a most worrisome development.
He expressed confidence in the leadership capability of Dr Dakuku Peterside who was elected as AAMA Chairman at the event.
“He is passionate about the development of the maritime sector. Nigeria already has respect among maritime nations and if we connect the dots, it means we are heading somewhere. I am confident he he would deliver” Bello noted.