By Godfrey Bivbere
Minister of Transport Alh. Ibrahim Isa Bio has said that the problem of shortage of funds hindering involvement of local operators in maritime sector of the nationâ€™s economy will soon be addressed with the expected establishment of the regional Maritime Development Bank for Maritime Organizations of West and Central African States (MOWCA) to be based in Nigeria.
The Minister stated that the establishment of the bank would eliminate the funding problems in the sector ranging from ports development and operations, ship building and acquisitions, ship repairs, Marine Safety, Environmental protection and others.
He stated this at the opening of a 3-day meeting of experts and stakeholders on the establishment of the regional Maritime Development Bank in Abuja.
In a press statement signed by the Deputy Director (Press) of the Ministry, Kingsley Agha, the Minister said the bank would â€œprovide a solid framework for transit transport development in the region.â€Â â€œIndeed, such a bank will be a source of shoring up funds for developmental projects and services as against retail banking for the sub_region.â€Â Alhaji Bio further urged the experts at the meeting to work assiduously within the confines of acceptable best practices and provide a solid framework for the bank to commence operations.
He further said that Nigeriaâ€™s resolve, â€œto open up frontiers for global economic development as embodied in Mr. Presidentâ€™s 7_Point Agenda and indeed in consonance with the vision 2020 grand National norm and the ECOWAS conventions is mostly anchored on the maritime and transport sectors which are critical to our globalÂ approach and drive for Africaâ€™s economic integration.Â He enjoined the Committee of Experts not to betray the confidence of MOWCA general Assembly of Ministers who conceived the noble project.Â Speaking earlier, the Secretary General of MOWCA, Magnus Teye Addico also identified lack of financial capacity and technical support as the key obstacle to the development of the Maritime Industry in Africa which is why Africaâ€™s share in the world supply of tonnage is less than 1%.Â This is also why Africa cannot adequately compete in the supply of shipping services in our ports, and the supply of multi modal transport services is still lacking in our sub region. Speaking further, Addico said the bank would strengthen regional infrastructural base for ensuring efficiency of maritime transport services.Â It will assist member-countries to establish effective coastguard and help MOWCA to network these coastguard in a sub-regional Coastguards Network. The Chairman of the organization Committee and also Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transport Mr. Musa Tugga Karam welcomed the delegates to the meeting stating that it was at the MOWCA Ministerial Meeting in Congo in the year 2003 that the idea of a Maritime Bank was first received.