Why Nigeria needs upstream maritime assets –Bello-Koko

By Steve Agbota

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said that Nigeria must utilise the opportunity offered by the upstream maritime assets to contribute substantially into the nation’s economy.

Speaking at the 2022 edition of the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) Conference/Award with the theme: “Maximising Nigeria’s Blue Economy Through Automation,” in Lagos recently, said maritime activities made up of downstream and upstream operations.

He said downstream operation principally include port operations and bunkering, while the upstream consists of insurance, connectivity logistics and shipping activities.

“Ironically, Nigeria operates only in the port operation aspect of downstream operation. Even the port operation is not performing optimally due to a number of inherent challenges.

“Today, Nigeria has not fully utilised the opportunities offered by the upstream maritime economy. This explains why its maritime sector does not contribute substantially to the  economy. In an effort to reposition Nigerian economy particularly the maritime sector, the managers of our economy need to pay requisite attention,” he added.

However, for Nigeria to maximize the benefits of blue economy, both downstream and upstream operations have to be fully explored, adding that shipping business must be taken beyond mere vessel and cargo handling at the port but must include other services such as bunkering, insurance, hinterland connectivity etc.

Speaking on the future trends in the shipping industry, he revealed that the shipping industry is a huge and complex industry that is constantly being affected by global trends and by advancement in technology.

According to him, the complexity of the shipping industry and the need to become more competitive and cost-effective necessitates its continual change and adaptation to meet the demands of world trade. 

He said the concern is how well is Nigeria prepared to measure up with the future trends of shipping among which are listed as digital sensoring, bigger megaships, greener shipping, liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel and solar and wind power for ships.

“It is pertinent to note that with the backing of the government through the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the technical advisory of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Nigerian Ports Authority has kick-started the process of establishing Port Community System (PCS). The system will bring together all stakeholders in the port community and facilitate ease of doing business in the ports.  

“Our role as port players is to position the port on the part of competitiveness with a focus on quality port services and right pricing. This is what underpins trade facilitation ideals, which would ultimately expand the frontiers of trade and foster economic growth,” he said.

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