The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has recognised Nigeria in the class of ship-owning countries.
Disclosing the development, Ms Olufunmilayo Folorunso, Secretary General African Shipowners Association and Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Champion for Transportation Sector, said that UNCTAD, which is dedicated to trade and development, captured the information in its annual report for 2020, confirming Nigeria as the only African country in the class, besides Liberia, which is not truly flagged Africa.
Her words: “UNCTAD does global pictures and they produce an annual report. In the annual report for 2020, excerpts of which we got in November 2020, and went through it thoroughly, the highlight for me was the fact that Nigeria is part of the Top 35 ship-owing countries. The only other African country listed is Liberia, and it not truly flagged Africa. For me that is great news. And our percentage on that table is 0.31.
“This to me, means that we have started climbing the leadership, we have started moving. Of all African countries, we are there. The percentage doesn’t matter yet, as long as we are in a class!
“This is fantastic news coming as soon as the AfCFTA is coming into action. It is now for us as a nation to strategize on how we can, in the next 12 months, move from point 0.3 to 1.0 or move ahead greater than that.”
Using the opportunities in AfCFTA
Considering efforts going on for a new fleet development for Nigeria, and the opportunities now for bigger trade through the AfCFTA, Folorunso said commendations should actually go to the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, who is leading the Fleet Development Committee, as well as the Ship Registry Committee.
She added that “We should also commend Nigerians who have been patriotic enough to fly the Nigerian Flag in spite of the challenges.
“We should come together, use what we have now to advance our course, present a picture as the only African country today that is on that list. We should use it to our advantage when we are now negotiating for transportation hub, so we better our class.”
Importantly, Foloruso said that since the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) met with the fleet development committee late 2020, it made the discussions for having indigenous shipowners partake in shipping the nation’s cargoes easier.
She, however, advised that efforts must be sustained to maintain and progress on the position by ensuring that the numbers do not decrease and that the quality of ships also remain high.