Unveiling the Blueprint for Nigeria’s Maritime at WISTA Business Luncheon 2023

by Joseph Omoniyi
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The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria hosted its annual business luncheon in Lagos, drawing maritime stakeholders, industry experts, and esteemed members under the theme: “BLUE ECONOMY: POTENTIALS FOR REBUILDING & REPOSITIONING NIGERIA’S MARITIME INDUSTRY.” The event witnessed insightful discussions, strategic presentations, and engaging conversations surrounding the blue economy, aiming to unveil a comprehensive blueprint for the revitalization and repositioning of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Eunice Ezeoke, President of WISTA Nigeria, while welcoming attendees to the WISTA and Business Launch Conference, emphasized WISTA’s global role in supporting women at management levels in maritime, trading, and logistics and highlighted the potential of the blue economy in diversifying Nigeria’s economic landscape.

She said, “We are cognizant of the diverse definitions of the blue economy, and in Nigeria’s case, its significance lies in diversifying from the oil and gas sector, a vital step towards sustainable economic growth.

The establishment of the Ministry of the Marine and Blue Economy by President Bola is a strategic move to support the blue economy concept. Nigeria joins other nations like Denmark and Norway in committing to this initiative, aiming to boost the maritime industry, create job opportunities, and lower logistics costs.

The Blue Economic Administration focuses on inclusive collaboration among sectors, including science, youth, traditional communities, and the private sector, emphasizing sustainability, the administration plans to invest in food, transport systems, storage facilities, and legislation points for export coverage.”

According to Ezeoke, this commitment to the blue economy is expected to bring numerous benefits to Nigeria, such as job creation, environmental preservation, and attracting foreign investment in marine infrastructure, fisheries, and technology. The potential for marine tourism, marine biology, and contribution to global efforts against climate change is also highlighted.

Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, President, Women In Maritime West and Central Africa, Nigerian branch, commended WISTA Nigeria for its consistent effort in organizing the annual business luncheon. She acknowledged Nigeria’s leadership in empowering women in maritime across the continent, highlighted the significance of the blue economy in the context of the new administration’s focus on establishing a Ministry of the Marine and Blue Economy.

Doyin Rhodes-Vivour (SAN), Managing Partner of Doyin Rhodes – Vivour & Co in her attention-grabbing presentation, stressed Nigeria’s vast potential in the maritime field, particularly through the blue economy.

“Nigeria has a huge potential for repositioning itself in the maritime field by tapping into the resources of the ocean. Nigeria with a 200 nautical mile with 80% of her coastline made up of oil and biodiversity-rich Niger Delta commands the sea, and with dedication, commitment and strategic planning can command trade, command riches and the world itself. Our people can be moved from poverty to abundance. Our nation from developing to developed with first-class amenities and facilities. Jobs can be created stemming the “japa syndrome” and ill-treatment and suffering of our people all over the world,” Adedoyin stated.

She advocated for strategic planning and commitment to harnessing the nation’s oceanic resources for economic growth and explored the transformational impact on job creation, technological development, and infrastructure enhancement: “Nigeria can command the highest level of technological development and first-class facilities simply by unlocking the potential its natural resources offers. It is time for our country with our vast resources to harness her naturally endowed maritime resources and maximize the economic benefits of the blue economy”

The panel discussion covered critical topics such as sustainability, port management, legal aspects, natural resources, and maritime security. The discussion also underscored the evolution of the new economy agenda, emphasizing the need for partnership and collaboration. The panelists also addressed challenges in the maritime sector, including foreign dominance and climate change impact. The panel further recommended indigenous participation in the shipping industry.

In his presentation, Temisan Omatseye, Former DG NIMASA, positioned Nigeria as a potential maritime powerhouse with substantial coastlines and economic dependence on the sea. He also advocated for rectifying past blunders, such as the absence of a national shipping line. He further highlighted the importance of embracing sustainability in maritime endeavors, aligning with global standards.

The event was graced by influential individuals, including Oloworo of Oworo Oba Babatunde Saliu, Foluke Akinmoladun(Managing Solicitor, Trizon Law Chambers/Member ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR), Rollens Macfoy (new President of Women in Maritime Africa), Carolyn Akum Ufere (Independent Maritime Consultant), Emmanuel Iheanacho (retired Merchant Navy Captain and former Nigerian Minister of Interior), and Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore (President, Women In Maritime West and Central Africa, Nigerian branch), among many others.

The WISTA Business Luncheon 2023 served as a platform for in-depth discussions and strategic insights into the potential of Nigeria’s maritime industry, especially within the framework of the blue economy. The collective vision articulated by experts and stakeholders establishes a compelling blueprint for the nation’s journey towards a more prosperous and sustainable maritime future.

Originating in the UK in 1974, WISTA Nigeria was established in 1994, evolving into an influential international network connecting executives and managers in the marine, ship, and logistics industry across 69 countries.

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