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NIMASA DG indicts self in London, says Africa not ship financing continent

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As Nigerian maritime stakeholders continue to express worry on non implementation of Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), a statutory responsibility of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Director General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who spoke at the London International Shipping Week 2017, said “We are not among top ten ship owning countries, we are not suppliers of maritime professionals and we are also not a ship financing continent”.

Investigations by Business Hilights showed that for more than 10 years, no indigenous shipper has accessed a kobo from the facility said to have risen to over N100bn as at today.

Continuing in his paper themed: “Promoting Sustainable Investment and Financing in Africa’s Shipping & Maritime Industry” at the Africa Maritime Summit, he said “While an African country is among top 10 global ship registries because Liberia operates an open registry, Africans do not own vessels. In fact African countries pay 40%-70% more freight on imports and exports due to poor infrastructure, high cost of insurance, piracy, low vessel owning capacity and poor ship connectivity”.

Stakeholders had at several occasions decried the drought of business activities at the nation’s ports due to protracted silence of NIMASA in disbursing CVFF to deserving local operators so that they can grow the industry. Currently, over N100 billion had accrued to the fund, but there is clear plan to begin disbursement to indigenous ship owners to grow the industry.

Dr. Peterside had last one year assured operators during his tour of NIMASA formations in Port Harcourt that in October that before September 2017, his administration must have covered well over 90 per cent of Cabotage regime.

But one year after, nothing is on ground to show as low as 10 per cent according to industry analysts and operators including ship owners.

Business Hilights recalls that it was only last month the agency released guidelines for the takeoff of the scheme which had also been rejected by experts on grounds of poor packaging and conditions.

Speaking more at the London summit, NIMASA DG regretted that Africa is still not a major player globally in maritime trade because of lack of strategic attention to the sector and pointed out that despite operating one of the largest ship registries in the world in Liberia; Africans do not own vessels to match the corresponding statistics of the large registry.

Ne noted that Ship or Vessel building as well as repairs and maintenance activities are near zero contribution to GDP of the continent. He urged African countries to invest in maritime infrastructure, cooperate among themselves and explore a continental Cabotage regime as recommended in the African Maritime Transport Charter for the benefit of intra continent trade.

He said immeasurable facts have proven Africa as the next Maritime investment Haven, adding that 38 of 54 African nations are either coastal or island states. He further mentioned that the continent is one of the most endowed continents in terms mineral resources with 27% of the World’s arable lands.

“Because of our coastline of about 30,725km hosting 90 major ports and our arable lands, Africa will continue to export Agricultural produce. Marine Transport accounts for 92% of Africa’s external trades and import, but Africa handles only 6% of global seaborne traffic with 6 ports in Egypt and South Africa handling 50% of this volume” he said.