By Godfrey Bivbere
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA has indicated that the current structure of the oil and gas as well as the maritime sectors are counter productive to the nation’s economic development and local content initiatives.
NIMASA’s Assistant Director, Shipping Development, Mrs. Anna Akpan, who represented the Director General, Dakuku Peterside, at the one-day seminar of the Maritime Reporters Association, said despite the huge activities and revenue generated by these two industries, their impact in terms of employment and economic growth has been very low.
She noted that the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy accounts for almost 90 percent of the foreign exchange earnings for the country but less than 20 percent contribution to Gross Domestic Product, GDP and five percent of total employment which, according to her, was a misnomer.
She said the situation in the maritime industry was not different lamenting that Nigeria which was ranked the 7th largest oil producer in the world was the only oil producing country that does not carry a drop of its crude through its indigenous shipping companies.
She stated: “Industry statistics shows that the country generates an estimated annual cargo throughput of 150 million metric tons with freight earnings in excess of $5billion in her international trade transactions. 95% of this income is earned by foreigners, with the job deprivation to the country that goes with it.
“The same dominance by foreigners is also extended to the domestic shipping market, where the estimated $3billion annual marine related spending in the oil and gas production activities are virtually earned by foreigners.
“This situation of so much activity and so much money, but little impact on the lives of Nigerians, accounts for the high level of frustration and restiveness in the country especially in the Niger Delta region.
With this in mind, the Federal Government of Nigeria came up with the Cabotage law in the maritime industry and the Local Content policy in the oil and gas sector to tackle this challenge”.