As Nigeria is transitioning to a non-oil dependent economy, attention needs to be shifted towards other critical sectors, especially the maritime industry, so they could contribute substantially to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at the 5th edition of the Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) Conference held at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group, said the dwindling oil revenue in recent years and the huge potentials locked in the maritime sector make it imperative for the Federal Government to show better commitment to the industry.
He said: “The country’s national budget, in the last few years, has been majorly funded without revenue from oil but from other sectors. The days of over reliance on oil is behind us now and it’s time we focused on transitioning from an oil-dependent economy to non-oil reliance.
The maritime sector, I can say without any fear of contradiction, will play a crucial role in this economic transitioning if more attention is committed to the industry.”
Despite the growth that the industry has witnessed in the recent years including development and approval of various deep-sea ports, springing up of inland container depots across the country, linking seaports with rail lines, among others, Afolabi further noted that the sector is still facing with major problems which are slowing down its growth and impact.
He said: “It is without doubt that the maritime industry in Nigeria is grappling with various issues including infrastructural deficit, foreign exchange bottleneck, insecurity on our waterways, low level of technology adoption and deployment as well as inconsistent policies, among others.
“”These issues have largely limited the ability of the sector to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If well harnessed, the maritime industry has the potential to become a major revenue earner for the country, particularly with the declining oil revenue.”
The TAAM Conference is a maritime summit organised by the Maritime Forum of UNILAG’s Law Faculty in partnership with the SIFAX Group and serves as a platform where key maritime issues that border on the sector’s sustainable growth are discussed, while also stimulating the interests of university students in the industry.
The theme of this year’s conference is “The Maritime Roadmap Project: Making Nigeria A Leading Maritime Nation In The World.”