Dr. Bashir Jamoh, NIMASA DG/CEO
At the 6th edition of Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) in Abuja, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), spoke to journalists at the sideline of the conference after speaking about Blue economy and its opportunities for Nigeria.
Dr. Jamoh also spoke about blue ship project of the agency and that insecurity is reduced on Nigeria waters under his watch. He said strategic plans are needed to make Blue economy which will create 350 million jobs worldwide.
NIMASA is making assiduous efforts to remove barriers of sea blindness of which people do not know opportunities around them. The agency is creating awareness to sensitise the public of the resources that are in Blue economy which generates $24 trillion across the globe. Nigeria has to create enabling environment to attain objectives and get its own share.
What do you mean by Blue ship project and tell us more about it?
We have two deep Blue ship projects which have to do with maritime security and is going on well. What we are battling with is sustainability plan, the Gulf of Guinea water is very huge and costly to maintain. It is not the acquisition of the asset and platform but the maintenance and management. What we’re looking up now is sustainability plan and all is well with the results we are getting.
Even though the Nigerian Navy is doing lots of work and I’m happy to say that our headquarters is helpful inculcating through our projects. They have their own but the ability of our headquarters increase it which is part of the deep Blue project.
Is insecurity reduced?
From 2021 to date, we don’t have any attack apart from the last four weeks where we had an attack and in one of the attacks, we had already got the ship Abundant and the seafarers are intact nothing happened to them.
The second attack is the one we are having problems. The seafarers have been taken away, but we made some arrests, and very soon we’ll let Nigerians know the position of such arrests. Possibly, if we can find out where the seafarers are, it will be great and huge success.
So at the end of the day, we may have cause to rejoice that we are still on our own beat despite two years into the attack.
Looking at theme of this conference, what can you say is in line with the maritime, what are the take home?
Basically, what they’re talking about is sustainable energy; we’re not talking about sustainable Blue economy. The sustainable Blue economy is something that has been around us as I mentioned earlier, but we need a strategic plan to make it work because we are building an economy from our own resources and waters. Oil and gas is part of Blue economy because we generate oil either offshore or onshore. Under the water we get crude oil that’s Blue economy.
So, what we are trying to say now is sustainability within the maritime domain. All we are trying to do is to remove barrier of sea blindness that people do know what is around them at the sea. We are trying to create awareness and sensitize the public to know the enormous resources that are there in the blue economy.
We are talking about sustainable renewable energy using our own seas and oceans wind to create it. In so doing, we’re all part and parcel working together.
My take home is that what we are preaching in terms of Blue economy as a segment should be sustained. It is a fraction of the sector which is energy. Today, if Nigeria has a stable energy what happens? The country’s industry can grow and more than 60% of our problems are solved because if you don’t have energy there is nothing to survive. As we are standing here imagine if there is no light all of us will disappear, energy is one of the cardinal principle for the economy to grow. What we are trying to do is the sustainability of our own energy. In NIMASA’s Blue economy project, it is trying to see how it can build renewable energy which is being discussed.
In the Blue economy sir, you recently talked about $24 trillion worldwide. How did you come about this?
Go through research you will find the quantum of the Blue economy. The Blue economy worldwide generates about $24 trillion income and what I’m saying is how much Nigeria can be able to get from the project. Nigeria has to create enabling environment. There is need to educate people, develop knowledge, remove barriers like sea blindness. All the things that are in Blue economy are well known to us.
For instance, the fishing industry, educate the people and eradicate illegal and unregulated fishing. These international people that encroach into our territorial waters and fish illegally should be stopped. Fishing is not only for food consumption but for export. Let us look at the value chain for the fishing industry. Technology should be involved taking a look at the ships that we have including fishing trawlers had to be bought revived and activated. This will create employment and grow the industry. Prepare and package the fish for export.
In terms of exportation you will see how much dollars can be made. We have about 350 million jobs worldwide that Blue economy can create under the fishing, shipping transportation and ferry industry. If you take ferry here now am sure some of you have never been to Togo, Ghana or Cameroun. Create ferry services that can take people for weekends to travel outside the shores of Nigeria to other countries. Inside the ships, there are entertainers, restaurants, those involved in pedicure and manicure that can take care of people. Just in weekend and by Monday you report to the office.
If you are used to Dubai, the mariners put people on small cruise and collect dollars as fares for short sea trip and it is over. Why can’t Africa develop such things? We are trying to do what we preach and preach what we do.
NIMASA has just imported four 35 seater sea ferries in Lagos which will be launched by next month and our staff will be using alternative water transportation which is tantamount to Blue economy.
The entire gamut of the Blue economy constitutes seven largest economies in the world, next to Britain which is the strongest economy, Brazil follows.
Look at the size of economy of Brazil, that’s what we are saying we want to build a strategic point view to see how we can harness these resources. How we can build the Blue economy and see Nigeria Blue.
Out of this Blue economy income and jobs, what is Nigeria share of it?
It depends on how we structure our own policies and enabling environment for us to harness that. First of all, I have mentioned the enabling triangle. We must key into the enabling environment which is security. You can do it alone. Investors must invest in ship building. They must supply us with fishing trawlers in terms of fishing, hospitality industry among others. You have to create enabling environment in terms of safety and security which is the first process.
Secondly, create infrastructure which entails ship repairs. The ship repairing industry and fleet expansion must come to stay. We have to create finances for Nigerians to acquire ships.
In Nigeria cabotage laws, we cannot ascertain the entire opportunities therein, the whole length of cabotage ownership has bottleneck because people cannot own ship, it is capital intensive, where is the money?
We have to create enabling environment for people to have funds which will enable them to purchase and build fleet. Apart from ownership and storage we have to improve the tunnels so that international community can recognize Nigeria as a maritime nation. Apart from tunnel, there are issues of money to take care of maritime workers. For instance, are the seafarers competent, did we develop their competence and certification? Are they recognized? It is the duty of NIMASA to see how they can survive.
Apart from money, ownership and building of the ship industry has to be revived. Many things are out of place and need adjustment. Until enabling environment is being created, things can work well.
Thirdly, there has to be good governance with policy intervention from time to time, if we have $24 trillion and we are targeting 4 to 5 trillion from what the world blue economy entails. If our target is five trillion dollars and we want to achieve that target, anything that is bringing stumbling block for us not to achieve that goal, government will have to intervene with a policy that will enable us achieve the target to remove the barrier. For now nobody can tell you that this is what Nigeria can get until the enabling environment is accommodative.