As the economic recession takes toll on Nigerians, the Executive Vice Chairman of Sifax Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, has called on the Federal Government to redirect its focus to the maritime industry as a panacea to getting out of the current economic situation. Speaking at the Taiwo Afolabi annual maritime conference hosted by the Maritime Forum of the University of Lagos, Afolabi said that the exploitation of the potential of the maritime industry can help bridge the gap in the short fall of the foreign exchange needs of the country.
The Sifax boss pointed out that Nigeria can collect huge foreign exchange from shipping charges, ship chandling, ship brokerage, marine insurance, maritime law consultancy, freight for outgoing and incoming cargoes etc. According to him, “ Where the twin problems of the prevailing sharp decline in crude oil earnings in the international market and the cataclysmic plunge of the exchange rate of the Naira to the dollar have brought the national economy to an all-time low.
“This situation has compelled the need for an inclusive search for an alternative route to national revival and rebirth, forcing upon us a movement away from decades of fixation on the traditional black gold to the maritime industry, the emerging glittering “blue gold’. Diligent and sustained exploitation of the vast maritime resource endowments of this sector may prove to be that very” low-hanging fruit” that Nigeria needs at a time such as we are in today.
“The range of available business opportunities include, port and terminal operation, shipping, stevedoring, ship brokerage services, marine insurance, ship supply and ship chandling. Others are warehouse facility management, haulage and logistics, maritime law consultancy services (Admiralty), advertising and marketing, security and safety services, etc.” Similarly, Mrs. Margrate Orakwusi, first female President of the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association, NITDA, speaking at the same event, said that the current fall in the prices of petroleum products in a blessing in disguise as it would force government for look at other sectors of the nation’s economy.
Orakwusi explained that apart from the potentials of seaborne trade mentioned above, the nation has failed to exploit the huge economic benefits of industrial fishing and other benefits beneath the sea. She called on the President Mohammedu Buhari’s government to work out modalities to reaping the untapped economic benefits of the sector.