The Nigerian economy has lost about $18 billion (N6.48 trillion) at prevailing rate of 360/$) in four years to domination of Nigerian shipping industry by foreigners due to absence of a national shipping line in the country.
This is different from another $3billion estimated annual marine – related spending lost to foreign domination of the domestic shipping market in the oil and gas production activities.
These funds are freight earnings lost to foreign shipowners through lifting of Nigerian crude and lack of earnings by Nigerian seafarers.
According to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), 95 per cent of $5billion of the Nigerian crude lifted by foreign shipowners was lost by the Nigerian economy. With this, 95 per cent of Nigeria’s income is earned by foreigners due to foreign domination in the shipping sub-sector of the Nigerian maritime sector.
As a result of patronage of foreign fleet in international waters in 2014, shipping experts further argued that Nigeria lost $2.2 billion because of the absence of national shipping line.
For instance, if 50 per cent out of the 5,000 ships that landed in Nigeria seaports in 2014 were Nigerian ships and managed by Nigerians, the country would have saved $2.2 billion. The Nigerian seafarers would also have been engaged to work on the fleet and would have been earning about $3,000 per month.
This development which is an indication of extreme capital flight, implies that foreign operators in the shipping and oil and gas industries take away over 95 per cent of the $5billion generated through the shipment of petroleum products and other imports while only paltry five per cent is retained in the country.
According to the director-general of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who stated that though the oil and gas sector of the Nigeria’s economy accounts for over 90 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings for the country, he regretted that it contributed less than 20 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP), and less than five per cent of total employment generation in the country.
“The same dominance by foreigners is also extended to the domestic shipping market, where the estimated $3billion annual marine related spending in the oil and gas production activities is earned virtually by these same foreign operators.
“This is a situation of so much activity and so much money, but little impact on the lives of Nigerians, which accounts for the high level of frustration and restiveness in the country especially in the oil rich Niger Delta region. With this in mind, the Federal Government of Nigeria came up with the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act, 2003 in the maritime industry and the Nigerian Content Act 2010 in the oil and gas sector to tackle these challenges,” Peterside said.
The DG further argued that the situation in the maritime industry was not different from that of the oil and gas sector, saying that Nigeria which ranks as world’s 7th largest exporter of crude oil also remains the only oil producing country that does not lift a drop of such product due to lack of capacity.
Speaking on the lack of a national shipping line, the president of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Aminu Umar also regretted the loss incurred by the Nigerian economy to lack of a shipping line.
According to him, the country was losing a fortune daily to lack of a shipping line through freight earnings and foreign participation in auxiliary services.
“We are losing a lot and I have said it over that what we are losing is in billions of dollars. These are lost revenue in terms of freight but now the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) is in the right direction to resuscitate the Nigerian shipping industry.
“I think a lot of Nigerian stand to benefit and build bigger fleet because there are lots of losses and we have said it over and over that there are lots of earnings from cargoes coming in and out of Nigeria and these are in the range of billions of dollars and no one is participating, so, the position has not changed.
“They are still there and it is happening every year. There is no change yet but maybe by 2019 when the CVFF is disbursed and people are investing, then it will change a lot of things,” he told LEADERSHIP.
Corroborating Umar, the chairman, Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX), 2015 Prince Ayo Adedoyin, said Nigeria has not been able to meet up with the law that said 50 per cent of government’s goods must be lifted by indigenous shipowners.
“We are losing a lot. Nigeria law says that 50 percentage of government goods must and should be carried by indigenous shipowners so if we have a national line, we can leverage on that,” he said.
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