Featured: NIMASA And Implementation of Sustainable Blue Economy.

 

By Ayo Kehinde

As the government agency statutorily authorized to safely secure and manage the maritime environment for strategic contribution to sustainable economic growth of the country, the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the DrDakuku Peterside administration, recently evolved the Blue Economy concept to fulfill its mandate.

As a concept, the Blue Economy framework means that both the aquatic and marine spaces, which include the seas, oceans, coasts, lakes, rivers and the resources, hold the potential for sustainable economic development.

Operationally,it covers a range of productive sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transport, ship building and shipping, water maintenance and pollution control, bio-prospecting, under-water mining and related activities, all pointing towards economic prosperity, when adequately harnessed.

According to the United Nations Development Agency, UNDP, “it is low carbon, efficient, clean and helps restore, protect, and maintain diversity, productivity, resilience on the natural capital upon which its prosperity depends”

Considering that 80 per cent of the earth surface is covered by water, providing 90 per centof world transportation with 38 out of 54 African countries being coastal and inland states, conducting 90 per cent of the Continent’s import and exports by sea, the reasons for the Agency’s foresighted plan are obvious.

Besides, there are 63 trans-boundary river basins covering 64 per cent of the African land area provide home for 77 per cent of the Continent’s population.

The global nature of the Blue Economy concept with its potential for economic growth and development makes it an economic game changer for maritime countries in this era of global economic meltdown.

Dr Dakuku Peterside, Director General of NIMASA and current Chairman of African Maritime Agency Associations, AMAA, has taken time at many forums to flesh out the concept and dwell on its vast, local and continent –wide integrative, social and economic benefits.

According to him the Blue Economy as a working concept stands on three pillars, namely; environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and social sustainability.

At the 2017 celebration of the Africa Day of the Seas and Oceans, held in Lagos, with the theme; “Partnership, Key To Sustainable Blue World,” Dr. Peterside observed that countries in Africa can actualize the Blue Economy concept if they collaborate towards the common goal.

Partnership, he canvassed, tied around fair multilateral and bilateral agreements that would improve well-being, inclusive job creation, eco-tourism, debt swaps and green ports are some of the tools and opportunities that should action the blue economy sector in Africa.

On the benefits it would bring to Africa, he listed sustainable business opportunities, circular economy, resource efficiency, and conservation of development. All these, he said, would help the Continent actualize the blue economy sector.

Attractive and urgent as the concept may sound for sustainable development at the continental and global level, there are attendant challenges that must be overcome to make it a reality.

Again, Peterside identified these challenges at that Lagos conference. They include maritime insecurity, criminal activities at sea, climate vulnerability, terrorism, legislative vacuum, institutional structure for coordinating the inter-ministerial commission for seabed resources.

Thus, the need for Continent-wide partnership for the realization of the Blue Economy concept is at base hinged on the fact that 85 per cent of African countries are coastal and inland states that conduct 90 per cent of the Continent’s imports and exports by sea.

Notable among these is Nigeria with its huge population and market:And indeed the biggest economy in Africa.

For Nigeria, therefore, which has a favourable 900 km coastline and hosts 65 per cent of the ocean cargo in the West African sub-region, the imperative for a Blue Economy policy is clear.

In the past four years, for instance, the fortunes of its major source of revenue, crude oil, has nosedived as the international oil market became increasingly volatile and politicized.

A country that once financed a balanced budget when oil revenue averaged $100 bpd with a daily output of two and a half million barrels per day, now goes borrowing at high interest rates to finance its huge capital and even recurrent expenditure.

Meanwhile Nigeria population has skyrocketed to180 million from 100 million in the last 15 years, while growing uncontrollably at an average of 10 per cent per annum at a time oil prices fluctuate between $42 and $55bpd and criminal activities in the oil producing areas in the country continues to threaten daily output of crude oil.

Currently, the maritime environment is estimated to generate more than 75 per cent of the country’s revenue through the handling of  90 per cent imports and exports business by Nigerians, according to a maritime consultant, Captain Suleiman Baiyee

In monetary terms, this amounts to $5 billion in freight costs for non-oil, oil and gas marine cargo and over $8 billion component of the oil and gas sector, according to Baiyee, who is the president of Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Cross Rivers State.

Accordingly, the Peterside led NIMASA management, set up a Committee of Stakeholders, as a first step, to map out strategies to develop Nigeria’s Blue Economy framework.

This action was a follow-up to the initiated plan taken by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Transportation to create a national policy on the Blue Economy.

According to Mrs. Gloria Adie-Ayabie,Deputy Director, Cabotage at the Ministry, who represented Transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi at a conference, recently,the Federal Government has initiated reforms to facilitate the development of the Blue Economy through the enactment of laws and domestication of relevant international instruments.

She said Nigeria has been able to ratify 40 conventions passed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International LabourOrganisation (ILO) covering Maritime Safety, Labour and Marine Environment.

So far 19 of the conventions have been domesticated by way of regulation, adoption or incorporation under the Merchant Shipping Act of 2007.

Following the government’s plan, the initiative of the NIMASA management is to, “ put on center stage the protection, conservation, preservation and and sustainable use of aquatic biodiversity”, in a bid to “harmonize development of the various sectors of the Blue Economy in order to solve existing conflicts within and between sectors,” said Dr. Peterside at an enlightenment workshop organized by the Nigerian Shipper’s Council in Lagos, recently.

The agency has also proposed an anti-piracy bill,which is before the National Assembly. When passed, it would enable the agency prosecute those found in such nefarious activities that are capable of hampering the development of the maritime sector.”

Thus, while bilateral and multilateral cooperation with sister agencies has provided the Agency with a global template for the implementation of the Blue Economy concept, it has adopted a Medium- Term strategy to implement the concept.

As indicated earlier, the sectors that require policy and statute coordination for the implementation of the Blue Economy concept in the country are Carbotage; Safety and Security of Ports and terminals; Water resources management and Pollution prevention;Tourism and Fisheries; Shipping promotion and Ship ownership and pollution prevention.

 

Cabotage:

To ease the implementation of the Cabotage Act 2003 in Nigeria, the agency introduced the Cabotage Compliance Strategy in 2018. It aims to categorize foreign and local vessels operating under the Cabotage Act, increase the number of Nigerians who participate in marine contract and seeks manning requirements for vessels engaged in coastal trade with regards to 2nd officer, 2nd engineer, 2nd mate down to able seamen, ratings and stewards.

To fully implement the Act, the Agency has been working closely with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, especially in the area of joint categorization of vessels operating under the Act.

At a presentation on the activities of NIMASA to maritime editors in Lagos on August 16, 2018, Dr. Peterside said the implementation of Cabotage Act is on target. He said its implementation has led to increase in indigenous participation in Cabotage Vessels Manning, ownership, building and registration as a result of zero tolerance on granting manning waivers.

Other areas are the introduction of electronic software for vessels monitoring and investigation; improved interface with the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), leading to a harmonized marine vessel categorization standards to deliver a common data base; Increased port state and flag state inspections which has led to significant reduction of sub-standard vessels on our (Nigeria) waters.

“As a result, the number of Nigerian Seafarers placed onboard vessels from January to June this year (2018) is 2,337, representing a 58.9 per cent increase in the number of seafarers employed,” he said.

The agency also witnessed an increase in total number of wholly Nigerian owned vessels on the Nigerian Cabotage register.

Half- year result, he said, showed 125 vessels registered, representing a 33 per cent increase when compared with the 94 registered in the corresponding period in 2017.

Also vessels manned by Nigerians increased: A total of 2,840 Nigerian officers and ratings were recommended to be placed onboard Cabotage Vessels in 2018 as against 1,789 Nigerian seafarers in the same period in 2017 which reflects an increase of 58 per cent.

The Agency has also waded into the issue of finance which is a major constraints faced by vessel owners in terms of ship building and repairs; the existing Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, CVFF, has been found to be inadequate, considering the huge demand for maritime assets.

To overcome this challenge, the Agency has proposed a Special Intervention Fund at special interest rate to be supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for vessel owners. The apex bank has graciously acceded to the request.
After assuring the supervising Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi of the integrity and transparency of the process and securing his approval, the Agency promised to start disbursement of CVFF by end of 2018.

Disclosing this in an interview published in the In-House Magazine, Voyage, October- December, 2017 edition, Director of Administration and Finance, Bashir Jamoh, said; “We have written letters to our supervising Ministry to ensure the disbursement of the funds and I am sure before the end of 2018, the stakeholders should see themselves as lucky that after over 15 years of the Cabotage Law and after 14 years of saving their own income into the CVFF, this administration will disburse the CVFF”.

Clearly, these measure, as shown by Dr. Peterside during his meeting with Maritime Editors,should increase and sustain employment and job creation, capacity building and ship ownership for the sector.

To deepen these measure, the NIMASA DG-led members of his management to meet with the Oil Producers Trade Sector (OPTS) in Lagos, recently. At the meeting, he urged industry players to draw up a five-year strategic plan for the cessation of application for Cabotage waiver and also pursue the utilization of Nigerian-owned vessels for marine contracts.

Moreover, the agency has also embarked on the enforcement of relevant laws to ensure harmonization of policies and achievement of goals towards implementing the Blue Economy.

Whenever the situation presented itself, the Agency has always wielding the big stick on vessels, which violate the provisions of the Cabotage Compliance Strategy introduced last year as such violations frustrate the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector and the economy at large.

Interestingly, the Cabotage regime has spread to the grassroots: In the analyses of a survey on Cabotage operations collated at the 2nd NIMASA Customer Consultative Forum, held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on March 28 and 29, 2018, 100 per cent of the respondents affirmed that they know NIMASA.

Out of a total of 92 questionnaires administered to the stakeholders, 65 per cent replied that indigenous companies were directly involved in Cabotage. Also, 50 per cent declared that the operators were honestly declaring their receipts for the purpose of 2 per cent Cabotage Surcharge.

The overall implications of this, new proactive approach to Cabotage implementation is the far-reaching structural, funding and administrative changes they have brought to the realization of the Blue Economy in the country.

Safety and Security of Ports and Terminals:

A detailed Total Spectrum Maritime Security Strategy adopted by the Agency has helped to better the state of safety and security in the marine environment. Considering that 80 per cent volume and 75 per value of global trade     passes through the Ports, it is obvious that ports are  critical infrastructural assets for economic growth and development. Well managed, ports have the potential to create jobs and create wealth on a huge scale and impact nearby industries and cities.

To initiate action, the Agency has put in place the acquisition and utilization of marine technology infrastructure (maritime domain awareness); improved compliance monitoring and enforcement activities; training/re-training; and conscious efforts to ensure adequate funding for the maritime sector, as part of the security measures adopted by the Agency for safety and security at the ports and terminals.

Noting that shipping is a globalized event, the Agency has also sought multilateral cooperation, especially among African countries, to ensure vessel safety.

The agency has also called for a Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) framework for maritime safety management: It consists of five key areas, namely; identification of hazards, assessment of risks associated with the hazards, finding ways of managing the risks, analysis of the risk control options (RCOs), and deciding on the options to select.

Imposing sanctions on port facilities that refuse to collect their Certificate of Compliance is part of the direct measures taken by NIMASA to safeguard the ports.

As the authority in charge of the implementation of the International Ships and Ports Security, ISPS, code in Nigeria, the Agency, has said that failure to collect its Certificate of Compliance means that the facility is operating illegally.

According to Engineer Fashakin, Director of Operations, NIMASA developed the guidelines of the ISPS Code implementation in Nigeria, with the cooperation of sister agencies within the maritime domain; the Nigerian Navy, the Nigeria Ports Authority, the Nigeria Waterways Agency, NIWA, the Nigeria Police Force, Directorate of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and the Nigeria Customs.

Similarly, the Agency has a continuous collaboration plan with the US Coast Guide while currently working out a plan with the UK Department of Transportation.

“We have been able to move the ISPS implementation in Nigeria from 13 per cent to 90 per cent currently”, Fashakin said in an interview published in the In-house magazine, Voyage, October-December, 2017 edition.

And the Agency has taken appropriate measures to enforce compliance.

Part VIII of the ISPS Code implementation regulations 2014 gives the Agency the powers to impose fines, withdraw maritime services and also to close down any erring facility that consistently violates the rules and regulations.

Indeed, at the close of 2018, the agency cracked down on erring facilities, which had exceeded the grace period. It took stern measures against three erring facilities namely; Heyden Petroleum Jetty, Index Petroleum Oil Jetty, Waziri Jetty operated by Hemsmor Nigeria Limited, NIPCO in Lagos, while the Pinnacle Oil and Gas Petroleum, Warri, Delta State was also affected by the action.

Speaking during the exercise which lasted for about three hours, recently, the Head of the ISPS Code Unit of the Agency, Captain Elei Green Igbogi noted that the affected jetties failed to comply with adequate notice to correct the anomalies identified, hence the Agency had no other option than to seal their facilities until they implemented the minimum ISPS Code standards.

Another proactive measure taken by the Agency is to appeal for continuous supports and cooperation among stakeholders. For example, it regularly attends the monthly meeting of Port Facility Security Officers, PFSO, Forum.

There, issues about appropriate fine for offenders, joint patrol interventions by NIMASA and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, on Nigeria waterfronts and funding of security operations are discussed and decisions taken.

The impact of these measures had been wide and far-reaching.

For instance, two years after the United States government gave Nigeria an ultimatum to put its port security in order of face sanction, the International Maritime Organization, IMO, in  2017, rated Nigeria  high on compliance with the ISPS Code.

IMO Lead Consultant, Mr Brian Cranmer during the visit commended NIMASA for committing strictly to the code implementation.

He said; “From what I have seen and what I am hearing, NIMASA has a very good programme in place. They are all trying hard, carrying out inspections.

“I have seen them carry out inspections and they are as good as any country that is implementing the ISPS Code. The port security is okay; you cannot just go to the ports unless you have an identification card.

“The ports I have seen meet the requirements fully and the compliance department and inspections are in the right direction.”

The 2018 revisit by the US Coast Guard, led by Lt Commander Janna Ott, was also full of commendation for NIMASA in its efforts to improve security and operational efficiency within the country’s maritime domain.

As part of the Total Spectrum Maritime Security Strategy,implementation, NIMASA has also undertaken surveillance training for officers from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), under the C4I Integrated Surveillance Systems operation to aid the coordinated view of security of the entire Nigerian maritime domain.  Such training and capacity building provides professional and skilled personnel to run the maritime industry.

 

Tourism and Fisheries;  

The Agency’s plan, as usual, is based on collaboration with stakeholders to harness maritime tourism.

According to Peterside, while delivering a lecture on “Maritime and Tourism Connectivity and Opportunity for Social and Economic Development”, at the National Tourism and Transport Summit held in Abuja recently, the Agency would collaborate with relevant stakeholders to develop maritime tourism in the full range of leisure and recreational activities that take place in the maritime zone and offshore coastal waters.

Peterside who was represented by Mr Anthony Ogadi, Director, Shipping Development, said a national tourism policy under the National Master Plan on Transportation would unlock the country’s maritime assets for social and economic development.

When fully operational, the plan would encourage the promotion of water transportation as an alternative means of transportation, especially along the lagoons, for recreational and mass transit purposes.

In addition, the Agency has committed to the promotion of tourism through ensuring a clean, safe and secured maritime environment, which is fundamental to successful maritime tourism.

 

Pollution Control and Water Management

 

Three major areas are highlighted here. They are marine pollution prevention, control and monitoring and enforcement of relevant rules at shore and off shore port reception facilities in accordance with international conventions governing marine pollution.

To ensure successful implementation of these measure, the Agency created two major divisions. One is the Marine Pollution Prevention Division (MPPD), designed to implement strategy for prevention of marine pollution from ships and land-based sources, according to the IMO Conventionsand MARPOL 73/78, London Convention 1972, Protocol 1996, Ballast Water Management Convention 2004, and Intervention Convention 1969.

Another section is the Marine Pollution Control Division which handles the actions of ships while operating within Nigeria’s jurisdiction, that is 200 nautical miles from the coastline corresponding to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including fixed and floating off-shore oil platforms.

The Marine Pollution Control Division also implements the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act (2007) through such activities as conducting regular boat patrols and aerial surveillance of the country’s coasts to detect pollution within the territorial waters. It also carries out investigation of violation reported or detected, evidence gathering including laboratory analyses of polluted samples. On the basis of its findings, it prosecutes and punishes violators, collect fines imposed, according to the polluter-pays-principle.

A more rather inclusive approach to water management and pollution control is the recent setting up of Marine Litter Marshals to assist the Agency in ridding the oceans of unwanted waste materials that could cause environmental degradation and also impede safety of navigation on the nation’s territorial waters.

Part of the marshal’s brief is to go to the ports, coastlines and littoral communities and enlighten them to be partners in the maintenance of cleaner oceans and preservation of the eco-system.

Considering that, marine litter directly impacts ocean life, marine habitats, human health, and navigational safety with potential impacts on socio-economic development of nations, the Agency collaborated with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Global Partnership Action (GPA) in 2015 to carry out a scientific study on marine litter challenge in Nigeria, thereby culminating in the development of the national action plan on marine litter and its campaign concept.

 

Shipping Promotion And Ownership:

Shipping is international in nature with 90 per cent of world trade transported by ships. For Nigeria, this figure is close to 95 per cent. There are 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally today, manned by over a million seafarers and carrying every kind of cargo.

Thus shipping promotion and ownership in terms of safety of vessels, (survey, management, surveying and registration), economics of scale and cooperation among maritime agencies, is critical to the global economy and by implication the implementation of the Blue Economy plan in Nigeria.

At the regional level, cooperation among AMAA members as canvassed by its Chairman and NIMASA DG, Dr. Peterside,has enhanced the region’s participation in international shipping and increased its presence in international cargo freight.

It was towards the realization of this objective that NIMASA signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Ghanaian Maritime Administration for collaboration, in 2017.

Engineer Fashakin, who represented Dr. Peterside at an Offshore Tech Conference in Houston, Texas in the United States of America, recently, said the Agency recently conducted the survey and inspection of vessels calling at Nigerian ports, and embarked on enforcement of standards to prevent substandard vessels from entering the country’s shore.

NIMASA Cadets pose with officials of the Agency and some of their tutors

He disclosed that the Agency was working with a shipping firm in the United Arab Emirates UAE to build capacity and  give 100 Nigerian professional Seafarers sea time training spread over 10 years. The Agency also has a Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) onboard ocean going vessels for their mandatory sea-time training. He said currently a total number of 289 cadets have commenced their training in Egypt and the United Kingdom on NIMASA full sponsorship.

Under its maritime security strategy project, NIMASA leased six fast intervention security vessels, an initiative that has helped to increase Port State Inspection, PSI, by 10.53 per cent in 2017, from 475 in 2016 to 525 in 2017. It also facilitated an upswing in Flag State Inspection, from 77 in 2016, to 98 in 2017, representing a 27 per cent increase.

The agency also has ensured total compliance with the provisions of the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) code as mentioned earlier under examination of Cabotage implementation.

At the governmental level, official commitment to a safe and secure sea has been made to deepen Continental cooperation.

Hence, through the instrument of the AU sponsoredInter-Ministerial Committee for the Implementation of the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050, ship owners had to be involved in the implementation process, “without which the Blue Economy cannot be realized as they are the major assets owners,” said Dr. Peterside at a public presentation, recently.

The Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Implementation of Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050 Committee, Hajia Amina Yusuf, disclosed that the AIM Strategy was developed as a response to the high volume of illegal activities leading to huge losses in revenue and lives amongst other issues militating against the development of the Africa’s Maritime Domain, AMD.

She disclosed that government is working out a National Plan to serve as a catalyst for the implementation of the objectives of the AIMS.

Explaining further, Dr. Peterside stated that government was investing heavily in the development of new infrastructure, such as deep sea ports and intermodal transportation to drive growth in the maritime sector.

He said the Agency has also pushed for a Single Data Window System in the maritime sector, whereby NIMASA, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council,  (NSC) Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other relevant government agencies in the sector will share a common platform for data on all vessels calling at our ports and the activities.

This strategy, he said, will make it easy for the National Bureau of Statistics to capture the contributions of the maritime sector to the GDP of the country to enable those who make use of the figures to grow the economy achieve better results.

Dr. Peterside said that the Agency is working on a special foreign exchange intervention for vessel parts acquisition and loan repayment processes to enable indigenous operators compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.

He added that there is a team working with the Central Bank of Nigeria on how best to implement the policy. At a forum, Dr. Peterside disclosed that efforts have reached advanced stage to facilitate the establishment of a National Carrier to be spearheaded by the private sector.

Once operational, he said, it would address many challenges in the shipping industry such as “check capital flight, create employment opportunities for our youths, provide an opportunity for sea time training of graduate cadets and shipbuilding and repairs in the sub-sector of shipping”

Boosting morale and motivating stakeholders to take advantage of policies in place to participate and grow the economy is also another way the Agency has been promoting the Blue Economy.

Towards this end, the Agency instituted the annual NIMASA Corporate Dinner and Merit Awards. The categories of awards include Shipping Company of the Year 2018; Vessel Traffic (Foreign); Shipping Company of the Year 2018; Cargo Throughput (Foreign), Maritime Education and Training Institute of the Year 2018; Manning Agent of the Year 2018, Seafarers’ Employer of the Year 2018.

Appraising the efforts of the Agency in this regard, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Mr Hassan Bello,  said the current NIMASA management has provided needed leadership towards implementation of the Blue Economy framework.

Bello said; “I am pleased because NIMASA is a worthy partner in our quest to realize an efficient Nigeria economy. The current Director-General of NIMASA (Dr Peterside) has turned the Agency from what it used to be to the apex of shipping in Nigeria and we must commend him for that.”

On the Blue Economy, Bello noted that the shipping sector was making direct impact on the nation’s economy following the collaboration with NIMASA to implement conventions such as Advance Tracking Note 1 and the issue of shipping companies providing holding bays in Apapa, Lagos.

 

Revenue:

The Agency has been able to generate substantial revenue by plugging all loopholes through the automation of its processes.

The digitization of its process has helped to plug revenue leakages, while the rebranded it recently embarked upon and staff retraining has greatly reassure customers in the Agency’s drive for due process in the conduct of its business. These measure have assisted in revenue generation.

NIMASA recently got a Floating Dockyard which, when fully operational would make Nigerian Ship owners and their foreign counterparts dry dock in the country.

Apart from saving $100m lost to the economy annually through dry- docking abroad by Nigeria ship owners, the new facility is expected to save N36b when fully operational. Saving capital flight is another way of boosting the country’s revenue.

These methods have also assisted the Agency to contribute substantially to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government, raising its ratings on transparency and accountability index introduced by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

The Ministry of Finance has noted that the revenue performance profile of NIMASA since the 2016 fiscal year, which has placed it among the first three huge revenue generating agencies in the country, after Federal Inland Revenue, FIRS, and Nigeria Customs.

Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has this to say: “Despite the general downturn in accruable revenue to the government due to the prevailing global economic meltdown, the remittances to the Consolidated Revenue Fund by NIMASA has been the highest by the Agency when compared to corresponding periods in recent times. It was also the first time in recent years that NIMASA would remit huge revenue into the government coffers.”

 

Dr Peterside, right, and Executive Director, Bashir Jamoh, middle and some guests during the unvielling of the 2019 Maritime Forecast in Lagos, recently

 

Conclusion:

Within three years of implementing the Blue Economy plan, the Agency has been able to make appreciable impact on the economy.

At the unveiling of the first maritime forecast for the industry in February 2018, the 5 per cent growth projected by the Agency along with other potentials has been met.

The 2019 forecast is even more optimistic in spite of concerns about a substantial global economic growth slowdown, likely higher US interest rates, a stronger dollar and volatile oil prices, possibly averaging below US$60 pb, and domestically, the impact of sentiments surrounding the 2019 general elections and post-electoral transition.

The 2019 forecast, was tagged: “Harnessing the Maritime and Shipping Sector for Sustainable Growth.”

The empirical analysis projects the growth of the total fleet size in 2019 over 2018 to be 10.33 per cent, easing to 8.75 per cent for 2020. Oil tanker fleet size is projected to decrease by 11.2 per cent for both 2019 and recover to a positive growth of 0.11 per cent by 2020.

Non-oil tanker fleet size is estimated to increase by 14.3 per cent in 2019 and 10.2 per cent in 2020, while Oil Rig count is projected to increase by 6.98 per cent and 6.5 per cent for 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Unlike in 2018 with 5 per cent growth, the forecast for 2019 is 10 per cent. There is high degree of meeting target, given the Agency’s commitment to harnessing the contributions of all relevant sectors achieving the Blue Economy mandate.

The forecast, which is based on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government,serves as a guide to stakeholders and investors.

Major plans covered by the forecast are the economic environment, the maritime industry (local and global), regulatory framework, and emerging opportunities and challenges.

The import of the forecast for economic development under the Blue Economy concept is considerable given that it is meant to give direction to investors and stakeholders in the industry in their planning and investment decisions as part of efforts to attract more foreign direct investment to the economy.

The realistic feedback covered by Dr. Peterside at the aforementioned meeting with Maritime Editors, the global partnership it has struck with sister agencies, government’s plan to invest in critical infrastructure, the enforcement of statutes and domestication of conventions as well as sustained coordination of the activities of stakeholders under the government’s Ease of Doing Business platform have impacted on the implementation of the Blue Economy by the Agency.