At WISTA Annual Business Luncheon, Experts Point The Way Forward for Maritime Industry
Experts have pointed the way forward to address the root of some of the key challenges plaguing the maritime sector of the economy in the country.
Some of the solutions proffered by the experts were the development of maritime arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Nigeria to serve as a regional hub in the West and Central Africa Sub-regions.
They argued that the establishment of the maritime arbitration and ADR centre in the country will balance Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings by reducing capital flight wasted on travel tickets, hotel bills and other expenses in foreign currencies overseas.
This is against the backdrop of the humongous amount of foreign exchange Nigeria is presently spending in overseas, especially in the United Kingdom, Hongkong, and Singapore which remain the leading countries in arbitration and ADR across the globe.
The experts include the founder and pioneer President, Maritime Arbitration of Nigeria (MAAN), Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour, SAN and the former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Temisan Omatseye.
They spoke at the 2023 annual business luncheon of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), Nigeria which took place recently at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The business luncheon with the theme, “Blue Economy: Potentials for Building and Repositioning Nigeria’s Maritime Industry” is an annual event of WISTA, Nigeria which presently has the former Port Manager, Lagos Ports Complex (LPC), Apapa, Lagos, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke as its President.
According to Rhodes-Vivour, arbitration and ADR are regarded as the traditional method of resolving maritime disputes dating as far back as the voyages of ships owned by ancient Phoenicians carrying on the cargoes of Greek traders.
Continuing, she said: “This trend has continued into the modern age with many maritime nations realizing the potential of earnings from maritime dispute resolution activities developing into world acclaimed places of dispute resolution with the potential of invisible earnings derived from such activities being utilized towards a nation’s infrastructural plans and programmes. Other maritime nations such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and China have thus strategized into becoming international maritime arbitration hubs.”
On his part, Omatseye in his paper titled: “Nigeria Shipping Industry and the Economic Impact of Climate Change” argued that Nigeria does not have a shipping industry.
According to him, the mere fact that vessels come into Nigeria and leave does not mean that the country has a shipping sector. Most of these ships come into Nigeria laden with assorted imported goods but leaves virtually empty as they have nothing to take out of the country by way of exports. Nigeria remains an import dependent country. Even the crude oil we export to other countries is not carried by Nigeria flag ships. This is also applicable to imports. They are not carried by Nigeria flag ships. Not even one. This is an anomaly that needs to be corrected urgently.
The experts were not alone in the postulations on the way forward for the maritime sector of the economy as the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola also shared in their views.
Oyetola noted that the maritime industry stands to benefit from what he called “infrastructural development and incorporation of advanced technologies” leading to the modernization of the sector.
The WISTA annual business luncheon attracted participants from the maritime industry and beyond. These include the former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho; President, AFMESI, Dr. Felicia Mogo; President, Committee of Friends for Humanity (COFFHA); Lagos Area Manager, NIWA, Engr. Sarat Braimah; HRH Oba Babatunde Saliu; and the President, WIMA-Nigeria, Mrs. Rollens Macfoy. The high point of the occasion was the presentation of awards to selected individuals amidst a cultural dance presentation from Brazil.