The Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Farouk Salim, has said that Nigeria’s Blue Economy Project would help the country bounce back from the current economy woe and generate far larger revenues than what it is currently generating.
Adding that the blue economy had the potential to create both economic growth and development in Nigeria, noting that SON has the human, technical and procedural capacity for immediate deployment when called upon.
Salim said this on Thursday at a Training Workshop organized by Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON’s) in Lagos. The workshop has the theme: An Insight Into Nigeria’s Blue Economy Project.
Speaking further, the SON DG who was represented at the event by Benedict Preake, Chief Technical Officer, SON however stated that the African continent had a long way in properly harnessing the economic power of its marine and maritime economy.
He said that relative inefficiency in African port activities which tended to slow throughput processing times leading to long cargo turnover periods and lower potential incomes would result from faster port processing.
Analysing the causes of the problems hampering sustainable Blue Economy in the maritime sector growth, he listed six key strategic difficulties.
“Political Will: The lack of broad political consensus on the nature of Nigeria’s fiscal federalism has deep economic implications, including making the blue economy a fragile project. If we must operate optimally and make the project work, every port must be made functional (Calabar, Port Harcourt, Warri, Lagos etc)
“Economy: A blue economy would require competitive and efficient use of coastline resources. Nigerian ports and maritime facilities are currently costlier to operate and manage than ports in neighbouring countries such as Cotonu port in Benin Republic, Lome Port in Togo or Tema Port in Ghana.
“The relative high cost of Nigerian ports reduces port patronages, efficiencies, operations and related activities; this, in turn, reduces potential employment ,optimal utilization of ports, competitiveness and decreased tax revenues.
“This port inefficiencies become more imperative, especially now that Nigeria has become a signatory to “The African Continental Free trade Agreement deal’’, our operations must be carried out in a less expensive and more efficient administrative environment.
“Social – High incidence of piracy, smuggling, human trafficking and drug peddling makes Nigeria’s maritime business a precarious entrepreneurial activity. The high presence or influence of wharf gangs has created a marine ‘inverse’ ecosystem that is socially precarious.
“Technology: Technology adoption is a critical aspect of the evolving blue economy, from stevedoring to cargo handling and inspections, the use of machines has become a compelling necessity to remove the obvious delays and bottle necks that occurs with multi-point human interface in shipping operations.
“Through the digitization of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and use of electronic monitoring and inspection technology has gone a long way in improving port turnaround time and scaled down the levels of delays that result from high levels of human discretion, we can improve on the present scale.
“Environment: The port environment in Nigeria is poor and nurtures a culture of weak morals and perverse hygiene. Port infrastructures are old and badly maintained while marine shorelines are highly polluted from industrial effluence and waste products, habitually thrown into the dock waters by port users and refuse disposal vendors. The pollution of the ports marine water creates challenges for environmental sustainability.
“Legal: The laws and procedures guiding maritime services in Nigeria are comprehensive and fairly robust, the problem seems to stems from procedural enforcement than with the written regulation.