The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) together with the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) have co-hosted an event on “The Future of the Maritime Industry in Nigeria” at Marlborough House in London on September 28.
The event brought together investors, business leaders and government officials – representing maritime interests from across the Commonwealth – in a bid to stimulate discussion, increase cooperation and forge partnerships around the myriad opportunities of Nigeria’s maritime sector.
The event was hosted as part of CWEIC’s Commonwealth Maritime Initiative (CMI), which aims to promote the maritime industry as a key driver of economic growth and trade (cargo carried by sea is set to quadruple by 2050), and to connect maritime business interests with state-level representatives and organizations from across the Commonwealth. Focusing initially on Nigeria before expanding across the Commonwealth, the CMI is focused on maximizing commercial opportunities in an industry that has often suffered from chronic underinvestment.
Nigeria was the focus on this occasion due to its status as Africa’s largest economy and its huge maritime ecosystem. Nigeria’s 850 km coastline and 8,600 km of inland waterways – the second longest in Africa – offer substantial potential investment and development opportunities across shipping, mining, manufacturing and service industries. The event hailed Nigeria’s maritime industry as a driver of economic growth and alternative revenues for a country that is trying to diversify away from a reliance on oil
, prices of which have slumped in recent years.
And with the recent announcement from President Buhari’s administration of economic reforms aimed at transforming Nigeria into one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world by 2019, the timing of the event was apt: maritime is set to play a key role in Nigeria’s economic future.
Offering one example of strong maritime investment prospects in Nigeria, Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, spoke about plans to establish a Nigerian National Carrier fleet. This is set to be a joint venture between Nigerian investors and foreign partners, and the Nigerian government has already pledged a number of enabling measures to ensure its rapid growth. Ship acquisition, building, repairs and training needs, as well as technical assistance for maritime professionals will offer significant opportunities for foreign and domestic investors alike.
The event also included presentations from the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) and Transport Malta, and concluded with an address by guest of honor Sabiu Zakari, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, Nigeria. Zakari’s message was clear: Nigeria is open for business and is committed to becoming a regional maritime hub, but needs private sector investment, partnership and expertise to realize its vision.
Greg Ogbeifun, Chairman of the SOAN and Co-Chair of the CMI said, “The roundtable gave CMI members the chance to network and explore the extent of Nigerian maritime investment opportunities, learn about best practices and challenges in the industry, and potentially be at the forefront of radical and exciting change in the Nigerian economy
. The UK is the world leader in maritime services, and by hosting this event in London we ensured conditions were ideal for an insightful, productive and profitable meeting of minds.”
Following the event, CWEIC said it hopes to expand the Maritime Initiative across the Commonwealth, highlighting further maritime investment opportunities across the many developing, coastal economies within the 53 nation collective.