For Steve Agbota

Manager Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Director Mohammed Bello-Koko has said Nigeria must seize the opportunity offered by upstream maritime assets to contribute substantially to the nation’s economy.

Speaking at the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) Conference/Award 2022 with the theme: “Maximizing Nigeria’s Blue Economy Through Automation” in Lagos recently, he said maritime activities comprise downstream and upstream operations.

He said that the downstream operation mainly includes port operations and bunkering, while upstream consists of insurance, connectivity logistics and shipping activities.

“Ironically, Nigeria operates only in the port operation aspect of the downstream operation. Even the port operation is not performing optimally due to a number of inherent challenges.

“Today, Nigeria has not fully utilized the opportunities offered by the upstream maritime economy. This explains why its maritime sector does not contribute substantially to the economy. In an effort to reposition the Nigerian economy, particularly the maritime sector, the managers of our economy must pay the necessary attention,” he added.

However, for Nigeria to maximize the benefits of the blue economy, downstream and upstream operations must be fully explored, adding that the shipping business needs to go beyond mere handling of vessels and cargo at the port, but rather It must include other services such as fuel supply, insurance, internal connectivity, etc.

Talking about the future trends in the shipping industry, he revealed that the shipping industry is a huge and complex industry that is constantly affected by global trends and advancing technology.

According to him, the complexity of the shipping industry and the need to become more competitive and profitable demands its continuous change and adaptation to meet the demands of world trade.

He said the concern is how well Nigeria is prepared to keep up with future shipping trends, including digital sensing, bigger mega-vessels, greener shipping, liquefied natural gas (LNG ) as fuel and solar and wind power for ships.

“It is pertinent to note that with the backing of the government through the Federal Ministry of Transport and technical advice from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Nigerian Ports Authority has started the process of establishing the Port Community System (PCS). The system will bring together all stakeholders in the port community and make it easier to do business in the ports.

“Our role as port players is to position the port on the competitive side with a focus on quality port services and fair prices. This is what underpins the ideals of trade facilitation, which would ultimately expand the frontiers of trade and foster economic growth,” he said.