By Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni & Adeleye Ajayi
Abuja – Dr Dakuku Peterside, the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), has called for concerted, cooperative and collaborative efforts at tackling Africa’s maritime administration challenges.
Peterside said this on Thursday in Abuja in his welcome address at the opening of the 3rd Conference of Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA).
According to him, Nigeria has waited with bated breath for this day and year to host this all important gathering.
“We are particularly delighted that this conference, the third in the series after the first in Mombasa, Kenya and the second in Sandton, South Africa is holding on our shores.
“Nigeria’s place in the maritime world is not only deserved, it is common knowledge.
“It (Nigeria) is special in the maritime community in Africa for a number of reasons,’’ the director-general said.
He said that Nigeria accounted for over 60 per cent of the total sea-borne traffic in volume and value in West and Central African region.
“As the sixth largest OPEC exporting country, we contribute significantly to the global energy supply and wet cargo traffic.
“ My country’s signature adorns all continental maritime initiatives and charters that seek to promote the development of Africa,’’ Peterside said.
Peterside told the conference participants that Nigeria was geo-strategically located as a major littoral state in the Gulf of Guinea.
The director general added that by all estimations, Nigeria had become a leader high on the crest of maritime nations and determined to advance African maritime prosperity.
He added that only recently to further reinforce the critical role maritime could play in the development of Africa, the African Union (AU) Special Summit of Heads of Government on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Lome, Togo on Oct. 15, 2016 aligned with Nigeria.
“They adopted a Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development aimed at making Africa’s maritime space the key driver of the continent’s socio-economic development.
“This document was endorsed by 43 out of 54 African nations.
“We have a collective responsibility to promote new awareness and appreciation of the inevitable role maritime transport and blue economy can play as an enabler of the economic development of our continents.
“Africa is looking up to this conference and we cannot afford to disappoint our people,’’ the director-general said.
Mr Kitack Lim, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), said AAMA should not relent in its determination to increase Africa’s share of global investments in the maritime sector.
Lim, who was represented by an official of the IMO, Mr William Azu, said that the maritime sector provided raw materials, foods, employment and transportation of 80 per cent of global trade.
According to him, many industries rely entirely on access to ocean resources, services and trade; and all these come into what one could call the “blue economy’’.
The IMO chief said the organisation had laid out elaborate plans to celebrate the 2017 African Day of the Seas and Oceans.
The theme of the conference which ends on April 21 is: “ Sustainable Use of Africa’s Oceans and Seas’’.