The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is continuing on its course of encouraging increased participation in the maritime industry by guiding investors appropriately.
This Nigeria’s apex maritime regulatory organ is doing with the unveiling of Nigeria’s Maritime Industry Forecast 2019 – 202 at a colourful event Tuesday at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos State, South-West Nigeria.
The document, the second in the series, is intended to give direction to operators and investors, both local and international, as to what should be expected within the period of the forecast.
Speaking shortly after the unveiling of the document, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, opined that the maritime sector has the potential of increasing greatly its contribution to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) in no distant future, as the country has the biggest market in Africa.
He noted that the country generates about 65 to 67 per cent of cargo throughput in West Africa, and that 65 per cent of all cargoes heading for the subregion will most likely end up in the Nigerian market.
At the event tagged: Harnessing the Maritime and Shipping Sector for Sustainable Growth, Peterside stated that the maritime sector remains a pivot to the stability and growth of the economy, hence the need to provide guidance to industry players as it will attract more foreign direct investment and ultimately improve the nation’s GDP.
“The 2019 – 2020 Forecast is focusing on harnessing the shipping and maritime sector for sustainable growth. Essentially, the forecast will be addressing; how emerging trends in the global maritime industry affect the maritime sector in Nigeria; and what domestic factors will influence the maritime sector in Nigeria,” he said.
The industry forecast also noted that, for Nigerians to actively participate in the maritime and shipping sector, asset acquisition and human capacity development are important.
Peterside assured stakeholders that NIMASA will continue to push for reforms to assist develop indigenous capacity in the shipping and maritime sector to ensure a high level playing field for operators.
According to the NIMASA boss, the 2019 – 2020 period is full of hope for investors.
While noting that the drivers of the macroeconomic outlook for 2019 include the general elections and its aftermath, prices of crude oil and policy imperatives such as fiscal, monetary and regulatory, Peterside explained that the maritime forecast model adopted by NIMASA projects an increase in demand for maritime services in Nigeria considering the global and domestic economic conditions.
On the regulatory aspect of the 2019 forecast, he stated that it is expected that the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill (Anti-Piracy) will be passed into law within the margin of the Eighth National Assembly to provide a robust and detailed framework to criminalise and punish piracy and unlawful acts in the Nigerian maritime domain as well as give further expression to the relevant provisions of the International Maritime Convention on Maritime Security to which Nigeria is a party.
Accordingly, he said that all these will provide the necessary assurance to foreign investors that Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea to a large extent is a safe hub for International trade.
Other Bills that would impact on the sector are National Transport Commission Bill, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, National Inland Waterways Authority Amendment Bill, Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Amendment/Revised Bill and Ports and Harbours Bill.
The challenges highlighted for stakeholders in the Nigeria maritime sector to contend with in 2019 include funding, ethnological change, supply of specialised maritime industry skillset, and efficiency of ports and shipping companies, amongst others.
On funding, the NIMASA boss, who observed that the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) is not adequate to handle the huge demand for maritime assets, noted that the Agency is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Finance to push for funds at single digit interest rate.
It is instructive to note that the domestic conditions for the maritime sector in 2019 looks tighter considering the budgetary proposal of N8.83 trillion when compared to the approved N9.12 trillion appropriated in the 2018 national budget.
It is noteworthy that while growth in the global maritime sector is expected to slow over the next five years with crude oil projected to decline by 0.1 per cent, containerised trade to decline by 0.4 per cent and seaborne trade by 0.2 per cent, total fleet increase was projected at slightly overall four per cent growth for both 2019 and 2020.
The baseline forecast is based on the 2018 outcome and 2019 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) forecast for total trade and foreign reserves.
The optimistic forecast is based on the assumption that total trade will increase to N28.55 trillion in 2019 and N30.11 trillion in 2020, while foreign reserves is $44.7 billion in 2019 and projected to be $61.7 billion in 2020.
NIMASA has an optimistic projection of a 0.67 per cent increase in 2019 and same to be maintained in 2020.
A review of the performance of the 2018 maritime industry forecast released by NIMASA shows that the publication is reliable as the figures projected for the year almost matched the full year actual figures.
While the forecast projected 0.66 per cent growth for oil tankers and 3.21 per cent for non-oil tankers in 2018, the actual growth rate was 0.71 per cent for tankers and 3.0 per cent for non-oil tankers.