By Oluwatoyin Amao
Group Executive Vice Chairman Sifax Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi has urged the federal government to take advantage of the current economic challenges that have seen a sharp decline in crude oil earnings and naira exchange rate by paying more attention to the development of the country’s maritime sector.
Afolabi, represented by the Executive Director, Human Resources and Administration, Sifax Group, Fola Rogers-Saliu said during the maiden edition of the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) Conference, with the theme: “Africa’s Maritime Capital: Nigeria and her Potentials,” held in Lagos on Friday, that the maritime industry has the potentials to rescue the country from the current economic troubles.
According to him: “The current economic situation has compelled the need for an inclusive search for an alternative route to national revival and rebirth, forcing upon us a movement away from decades of fixation on the traditional black gold to the maritime–the emerging glittering “blue gold’.”
Afolabi said, “Diligent and sustained exploitation of the vast maritime resource endowments of this sector may prove to be that very low-hanging fruit that Nigeria needs at a time such as we are in today.”
He advised “The government to provide conducive environment, propound the right legislation and provide massive infrastructural renewal, among others.”
“The maritime sector provides vast window of business opportunities in several maritime-related activities that offers commensurate returns on investments to the potential investors.” He said.
Afolabi said, “The range of available business opportunities includes: Port and terminal operations, shipping, stevedoring, ship brokerage services, marine insurance, ship chandelling, while others are warehouse, logistics, maritime law consultancy and so many others.”
He commended the undergraduate of Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, UNILAG, for coming up with the desire to key into the limitless opportunities and potentials inherent in the maritime industry.
In her keynote address, the Managing Director, Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), Dr. Amy Jadesimi, said operators in the maritime industry have to show tenacity in making a difference in view of the mounting challenges been faced by the industry.
She said “Massive investment in the industry by the private operators is one of the key game-changing strategies to take full advantage of the industry’s abundant opportunities.”
Jadesimi said “Nigeria has the largest coastline with high skilled workforce in the global maritime industry, adding that Nigeria needs to tap the potential in the transportation sector especially the water transportation could open many areas that were not accessible by land.”
According to her, “Over 500 million dollars investments have been made in both the first and second phases of LADOL operations despite the plethora of obstacles that have been erected on its path.”
She said, “It was almost unbelievable some years back that a company of LADOL status can be established in Nigeria, adding that its tenacity and faith in the country and the maritime industry have aided it providing support for ship building and large engineering structures.”
“With such deep investments LADOL has made, Nigeria can begin to change the world business model in favour of Nigeria and thereby grow our country to become a giant in the maritime world.” Jadesimi said.
Also speaking, a maritime lawyer, Jean Chiazor-Anishere in her welcome address, said the conference is to enable the younger generation to be aware of the Maritime industry and it’s significant to the nation economy.
“Maritime sector globally account for over 70 per cent of transportation from both import and export of cargoes because every developed nation rely on maritime industry to boost their economy, maritime activities are expanding and it brings more benefit to people across the world.” She said.
Anishere said, “The maritime industry as huge important in terms of trade and scientific activities and the essential part of trade in the industry has helped to provide solutions to pure management systems to ensure long time sustainability. It is difficult to quantify the total cost of the world maritime values and the economic relevant of the sector and the development.”
However, she commended the CEO of Sifax Group for encouraging student from University of Lagos to be more enlightened as well as preparing the youth to avail themselves by tapping into the future potential in the maritime industry.
The TAAM Conference is designed to be an avenue to stimulate intellectual discussions between maritime experts and the university community, especially students with interest in the maritime industry, contemporary issues in the industry, both locally and internationally. It is an initiative of the Maritime Forum in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos.
Over 1000 students drawn from various departments of the university and other higher institutions across the country attended the event and it was also graced by seasoned maritime experts like the Executive Director, Sifax Haulage, Sifax Group, Major Henry Ajetunmobi, Managing Director, Starz Group, Engineer Greg Ogbeifun, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, among others.
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