Bashir KAMOH NIMASA Nigeria

No country can develop without a maritime sector that supports economic growth.

Bashir JAMOH Director-General and CEO NIGERIAN MARITIME ADMINISTRATION AND SAFETY AGENCY

Unlocking Nigeria’s maritime potential

December 7, 2022

Bashir Jamoh, director-general and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), talks to The Energy Year about the agency’s role in spearheading necessary policy changes and what must be done to unlock Nigeria’s maritime potential. NIMASA is responsible for regulations related to Nigerian shipping, maritime labour and coastal waters.

What is NIMASA currently doing to develop the maritime industry?
In August of 2021, the president of Nigeria approved the integration of a committee to drive the national blue economy strategy forward. The group is headed by the vice-president and involves a broad range of stakeholders such as the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, governors and executives from NIMASA, the NNPC and the Department of Fisheries. The plan will be executed from 2022 to 2030 and aims to harness blue economy assets countrywide from Badagry to the entire Niger Delta in a collective manner instead of keeping them in silos.
The first steps NIMASA is taking regarding the blue economy is setting up concrete action plans, deliverables, key performance indicators and policy proposals. Research is being conducted by stakeholders and committee meetings have been held to report back initial results.
Our main short-term target will be the development of the fishing industry. The sector used to be the second-largest income stream for the country but has faced security challenges over recent years. Our second target is to develop alternative sustainable energy sources such as ocean wave power, for which we are currently looking for potential investors. Last, we are working on a national shipbuilding and repair industry strategy and creating incentives such as low duty costs to help expand the national fleet.
NIMASA is the current lead maritime agency in Africa in terms of maritime security, and we are working towards improving our offerings. We want to increase our ISPS [International Ship and Port Facility Security] Code. The United States Coast Guard will soon come back for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak and finalise our licences.

 

What steps has Nigeria taken to successfully cut down on illegal maritime activity?
As of December 2020, we were still recording six attacks per week. In a two-year timeframe, we have now managed to effectively reduce insecurity across Nigerian waters. A combination of factors led to our success.
The first step was to realise that various security agencies were working in silos and not properly co-operating and sharing information. We had to create awareness about the importance of joining forces and sending out the message that the fight would only be successful through co-ordination, co-operation and communication between different stakeholders.
Once we established internal cohesion, we moved towards the international community that monitors our maritime region due to the importance of Nigeria in terms of population, economy and trade volume and joined forces with them. This led to the creation of industry working groups responsible for operations, communications and information sharing together with stakeholders such as INTERCARGO [International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners], INTERTANKO [International Association of Independent Tanker Owners] and major IOCs, among others.
A further achievement came from working with the SHADE [Shared Awareness and De-confliction] political platform, which helped us bring together and co-operate with navies from France, Italy, Denmark, the UK, India and Gulf of Guinea countries to fight piracy together. Through this initiative, we received ships, communication tools, computers and further resources that helped us enhance our maritime security apparatus.
The last necessary development was the implementation of a rigorous legal framework that allowed Nigeria to better structure the way we process security issues in the long term. The Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act was enacted and later the Deep Blue Project was launched. The latter provides stakeholders with various military and logistics assets, such as 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol, 17 fast interceptor boats, special mission aircraft and other assets that have led to the witnessed result.

What final issues need to be addressed to fully unlock Nigeria’s maritime potential?
No country can develop without a maritime sector that supports economic growth. Through recently undertaken actions Nigeria is now on the path to development. The government is taking steps to help our ports run more efficiently. We have introduced port concessions for private investors to manage the ports’ logistics and increase effectiveness. A major challenge that we are working on is that our ports still face a lack of proper infrastructure connecting them with the rest of the transport grid, be it via rail or otherwise.
Currently, the Lekki Deep Sea Port is around 80% complete. There are also the Badagry and Akwa Ibom ports that are undergoing development. We hope to reduce the congestion we currently witness in our ports through these infrastructure developments. Last, we need to address legal challenges and hindrances that impede the proper development of our free trade zones.

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