By Okey Ibeke
Continued from last week
THAT done, Dakuku Peterside then went ahead to showcase Nigeria’s vast investment opportunities and maritime potentials, urging the international community to tap into the huge business opportunities that exist in Nigeria.
These investment opportunities, he said, are in shipbuilding and repairs, fleet development, ship financing, port infrastructure development, maritime tourism, renewable energy, ferry services, seafarer training, research and development, offshore logistics for the country’s oil industry, blockchain technology, and aquaculture etc.
Specifically, he told the world maritime community that opportunities abound in Nigeria in ship repair and maintenance services, tug operating services, line handling vessels service, dredging equipment services, mooring services, specialized piers for chemicals or gases, ICT components/spare parts, repair/maintenance and back-up systems, cargo handling equipment leasing for empty container operations (handling/transfer), quay apron, transit shed and terminal operations, fire-fighting vessel services, communications patrol services leasing, and safety and inspection services in keeping with ISPS code.
Dakuku told his enthralled audience that Nigeria’s maritime industry holds a lot of promise for economic development. One of which is the gradual migration of Nigeria’s oil and gas exploration towards deep offshore, off the coast and in the coastal waters.
This means an increase in the demand for more offshore support vessels (FPSOs), tankers and platforms. He said huge investments are required in developing these areas of the oil and gas industry.
He also told them that there are huge investment opportunities in shipbuilding to meet national and cabotage requirements, emphasizing that “drydocking remains a critical area of investment with over 3,500 vessels operating in Nigerian waters and largely being dry-docked outside the shores.”
He said Nigeria’s marine insurance subsector is one of the most under-developed compared to its peers, and a number of critical factors that have the potential to drive growth in the area, such as technology, mergers and acquisition, recapitalization to underwrite big transactions have been identified as game-changers for investors in the industry. In addition, there are huge opportunities for intending investors as shipowners are called upon to consider establishing a Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Club.
The NIMASA director-general also talked about manpower and human capacity development which he said was crucial to the development of Nigeria’s maritime and shipping sector, stating that large opportunities exist in an establishment, upgrading of facilities and management of maritime institutions.
“We need to train our young generation to develop cross-disciplinary skills required in today’s world by providing professional development course focusing on advanced maritime technologies, cybersecurity, maritime and port management, supply chain management etc. There is a need for a lot of investment in training and development of maritime professionals,” he declared.
He also talked about opportunities in haulage and storage services (warehousing), saying that Nigeria is striving to adapt to changes and develop in sync with shifts in the broader trade and logistics ecosystem. He explained that as ports are now much more than transit points, providing added value in such areas as the processing of products, financial breaks in free trade zones, specialized packing methods etc. investors are needed in these areas.
Similarly, opportunities also exist in supply chain logistics (transport of raw materials usually in bulk) which accounts for two-thirds of shipping traffic, while distributing logistics (manufactured products usually transported in containers) account for the third. Haulage business provides a lot of opportunities and so do warehouses or distribution houses outside the ports, Dakuku intimated his audience.
He emphasized that robust investment opportunities exist in marine support services, a ship brokerage, port development and modernization, construction of new green-field ports, particularly deep seaports. He stated that multiple opportunities for the development of deep-sea ports are available considering Nigeria’s vast coastline stretching over 853kms.
Dakuku extended an invitation to the international gathering to invest in Nigeria’s Inland Container Depots and Multimodal Transport. He stated that inland container depots are needed in Nigeria because of the vastness and diversity of the country’s landscape and the resulting distance between some major commercial centres and the coastline. This has created the need to bridge the service gap occasioned by the lack of access to seaport services.
Hinterland connectivity and Multimodal Logistics was another area the NIMASA director-general marketed at the event, telling his listeners that Nigeria was modernizing its rail corridors and connecting narrow gauges at the ports to speed up the evacuation of goods. He told them that Nigeria needs investments in this area through a public-private partnership.
The NIMASA director-general also took time to explain to the international community why Nigeria should be an investor’s destination in Africa. He explained that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with over 200 million people. It is the biggest economy in Africa, with Lagos, it’s commercial capital, as the sixth-largest economy in Africa. Nigeria maritime industry is the most active maritime sector in West and Central Africa with 65 per cent –70 per cent of shipments headed to West and Central Africa ending up in Nigeria.
“We have more port complexes than any other country in Africa. We have six-port complexes. And we have more terminals than any other country in Africa. And you can now understand when I say that Nigeria’s maritime is the most active in the West and Central Africa.”
In addition, Nigeria has a coastline of 853 kilometres and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles. Nigeria also has the most navigable inland waterway in the world, spanning over an area of 10,000 kilometres, and one of the biggest delta regions in the world.
He proudly announced that Nigeria has a proven gas reserve of 112 trillion cubic feet –the biggest gas reserve in the world. It is also one of the world’s greatest oil-producing nations, making Nigeria a strategic energy economy in the world.
Dakuku did not leave out Nigeria’s vibrant financial sector, stating that the country has one of the biggest financial services sectors in Africa. He remarked that Nigerian banks are present in virtually every African country. “Our services sector is the top match. So, if anybody is thinking about investing in Africa, which in any case is the current attractive economic frontier, basic instinct will tell you, that you think of Nigeria, and even more so, the maritime services sector,” he said.
He also wooed ship owners to Nigeria’s ship registry, telling them that some incentives have been put in place to enable a foreigner to bring his vessel and register it with Nigeria’s shipping Registry. “We’re automating all vessel registration processes. You don’t have to come to Nigeria to register your vessel; you could register your vessel online, provide all the information needed and when the information is verified, you would be given provisional registration.” He told them that registering their ships in Nigeria comes with a lot of incentives such as foreign vessels registered under Nigeria Ship Registry enjoying the benefits reserved for local vessels, including the plan to reserve preferential berthing spaces in Nigerian ports for locally registered vessels. Other incentives are tax exemptions, import duty reductions, and quick response to any challenge involving Nigerian registered vessels.
The NIMASA director-general also told the audience about Nigeria’s efforts to build a national fleet/carrier, disclosing that imports generated by the federal, state and local governments will be reserved for the national carrier, as well as 50 per cent of oil and gas cargoes and West Africa.
Adroitly, Dakuku ended his speech from where he started, identifying insecurity as a key challenge. However, he said Nigeria had put together a spectrum of the maritime security strategy to deal with the challenges of maritime insecurity. Under this spectrum is a legal framework to fight piracy and other maritime crimes, saying that Nigeria’s legislature had passed an Anti-Piracy Bill which is awaiting presidential assent.
He reiterated that Nigeria was also building up response capability under the deep blue sea project which is geared towards protection of maritime assets with Special Mission aircraft, special mission telecommunications gadgets, 17 interceptor special mission vessels and Command and Control Center, with a complement of armoured vehicles to patrol areas of adjoining littoral states, and a standing military force to deal with criminals and sea pirates.
In addition, he told them that Nigeria was working with its regional partners to strengthen regional maritime security system to fight piracy in the region. He also reiterated that as part of the anti-piracy strategy, Nigeria was organizing a global conference on maritime security on the Gulf of Guinea in October this year, and invited all to the event. By the time Dakuku left the stage, it was cheers and respect for Nigeria.