President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday charged African Maritime administrators and regulators to forge coherent and collaborative response to the challenges confronting Africa’s maritime space.
He gave the charge in his remarks at the opening of the 3rd Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) Conference in Abuja.
Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, highlighted the importance of the maritime industry to the growth of the economies of the continent.
“As African Maritime administrators and regulators, it is my respectful view that you must ensure a coherent and collaborative continental response to the challenges facing our maritime space.
“This will require cooperation amongst our states and agencies and with other segments of society, including the private sector.
“It will also entail focusing on human capacity development including strengthening the coast guard function to police our waterways.
“It means that government’s issues and appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks must be put on the front burner alongside timely exchange of information.
“In addition issues of maritime security and safety must continue to receive priority attention as we strive to make Africa a valid player in the international maritime community.
“In this vein, Nigeria will promote and support effective African participation in the council of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) ’’
The President observed, however, that this measures would only yield the desired results when all African nations speak in one voice at the global level for the enduring interest of the continent.
According to him, the continents fishing grounds were being pillaged, its waters polluted while piracy had heightened maritime insecurity and caused increase in the cost of insurance and trade.
He added that the regulatory and legal frameworks to properly manage maritime resources in the continent and overcome the challenges were inadequate.
Buhari said the continent had yet to fully develop the human and institutional capacities to respond appropriately to the challenges.
He said that Nigeria had taken steps to tackle some of the issues peculiar to the country including the stepping up of engagements to resolve the Niger Delta issues.
Buhari said the administration recently approved the new maritime security architecture and infrastructure.
The function would be jointly coordinated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Ministry of Transportation and the office of the NSA.
The president added that government had given support to the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies to enable them to work with others in the sub-region to effectively police the waterways.
“These arrangements will also contribute to resolving and eliminating piracy and sea robbery within our maritime domain,’’ he noted.
Buhari added that government was also making substantial investments to improve human capacity by taking full advantage of international trade and internship opportunities in the shipping and maritime industry.
He said government had also paid significant attention to making it easier to do business noting that one of the country’s immediate priorities were the exit and entry of goods especially in the seaports.
“The measures we are putting in place are designed to improve the efficiency of our ports and ensure quick turn-around time of vessels.
“Technology is also being deployed to make our port operations more transparent and more effective in support of economic growth.’’
He noted that NIMASA was being reformed to play its expected role as facilitator of economic prosperity.
Buhari noted that recent developments in the continent indicated that the nation of Africa had begun to develop the blue economy for economic prosperity and urged the regulators not to rest on their oars.