By Okey Ibeke
NOR-Shipping is an international shipping and maritime event that usually takes place in Oslo, Norway every two years since 1965. Here, maritime, ocean and business operators meet to connect, build relationships, discover opportunities and tackle challenges. It is one of the leading international shipping events and an important meeting place for the shipping industry. For participants from all over the world that attended this year’s edition, it was quite a rewarding and spectacular experience. It brought together who’s who and leading figures from shipping, ocean industries, politics, business, finance and more.
According to the organizers, Nor-Shipping 2019 was the most successful ever with a record 50,000 participants from all over the world attending the official events between June 3 and 7- an increase of 34 per cent over the 2017 figures.
A total of 300 high-level speakers participated across more than 220 conferences and events, delivering valuable knowledge on subjects as varied as cybersecurity, collaboration, de-carbonization, green financing, alternative fuels, renewables, digitalization, gender equality and evolving ocean regulations, port development, amongst other key issues.
This year’s edition of the conference also attracted a broad range of global leaders, from a diverse array of business, political, academic and regulatory backgrounds who delivered valuable takeaways right across the board.
The conference afforded the distinguished participants and global visionaries the opportunity to celebrate successes, outline challenges, and steer a course for the development of the industry, sharing their thoughts on some of today’s and tomorrow’s most pressing issues.
The speakers covered the most crucial areas for maritime and ocean businesses. From cyber risk and security, through to evolving maritime regulations, innovative digital technology, changing the market and geopolitical drivers, new energy demands, and crucially, enabling sustainability, both commercially and environmentally.
These elite speakers and contributors included Admiral Michael Rogers, Norway’s former director of the National Security Agency, NSA; Nobel Laureate (Economics) prize winner Paul M. Romer, IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim; Ann-Christian Andersen, Technip FMC’s Chief Digital Officer, Geir Haoy, CEO Kongsberg, DNV GL’s Remi Eriksen, Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, UNGC, and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, amongst others.
Among the audience were His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, international government officials, delegates from the UN, Ambassadors, top CEO‘s and maritime professionals.
Nigeria featured prominently in Nor-Shipping 2019 with a strong team led by the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, and NIMASA Board chairman, Gen. Jonathan Garba (retd). The governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, president of Shipowners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, Dr MK George Onyung, NIMASA officials and prominent Nigerian maritime players were also at the event.
Nigeria’s day at the conference
Nigeria’s day at the conference was quite remarkable; remarkable in the sense that ordinarily, it would have been a disastrous outing for the delegates and Nigeria, but for the ingenuity, courage, and the never-say-die Nigerian spirit of Dakuku Peterside, the director-general of NIMASA.
A few hours before Nigeria could take the centre-stage, the news filtered in that India had placed a red alert on Nigeria, banning seafarers of Indian origin from working in various coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea, which includes Nigeria, Ghana and other West African countries. The circular containing the ban by the government signed by its Director of Shipping, Capt. Anish Joseph said armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea were becoming more violent, with a greater tendency to attack, hijack and rob vessels as well as kidnap crew. The circular drummed up what it called the rise in crime rate at the Gulf of Guinea.
At first, the news was being hushed around; then, it blew into the open, and all eyes were on Nigeria. But Dakuku Peterside, was undaunted as he mounted the rostrum. With perfect aplomb, the erudite NIMASA director-general took on the whole world first, defusing the tension created by the news from India, and then selling Nigeria’s maritime sector and the entire economy to the world. By the time he was done, it was applause for Nigeria. Instead of ending the day with head bowed, Nigerians stood tall and walked away with pride.
The NIMASA director general started off with the news making the rounds concerning the insecurity of Nigeria’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea. He debunked the claim that Nigerian waters were unsafe, and condemned the exaggeration of the true situation at the Gulf of Guinea. He then told his audience the giant strides Nigeria had taken to combat piracy and criminality in her waters and the Gulf of Guinea which are yielding positive results.
Peterside said Nigeria had recorded remarkable success in tackling insecurity along its own stretch of the Gulf of Guinea due to robust investment in intelligence and maritime security assets, as well as the commitment of Nigerian authorities to ending the threats, and this has led to more investments in the fight against maritime crime.
These investments made under Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project will see to the acquisition of two special mission aircraft, three helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. Others are two special mission vessels and 17 interceptor patrol crafts. This is in addition to the land assets which include 16 armoured vehicles and an intervention team of 340 highly trained personnel. The entire project also makes use of satellite technology that will monitor Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone and feed real-time information to a command and control centre.
He asserted that the Nigerian portion of the Gulf has become relatively free of security threats, and is now relatively safe. This claim was corroborated by the Norwegian ambassador to Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud.
Mr. Kjemprud said Nigeria’s tackling of the security issue had been so impressive that for more than one year he had not had a call for help from Norwegian seafarers plying the route. Already, Norway and Denmark have pledged their commitment to partner with Nigeria in organizing the Global Maritime Security Conference to be held in Abuja in October.
Peterside said security was only one area of improvement in the maritime component of the ease of doing business in Nigeria. He pointed at other interventions of government to include the building of a modern railway system to link all the ports to the hinterland, investment in truck transit parks, fixing of bad access roads and the reduction of the number of agencies at the ports.
The NIMASA director-general took the opportunity to invite the entire maritime world to the global security summit Nigeria will host in October. The summit is aimed at bringing the world together to collaborate in developing a robust maritime security system to combat the security threats in the Gulf of Guinea. The global security summit will afford the international community a platform to develop actionable strategies to finally put an end to piracy and other security threats in the region.