Nigeria’s dream for a practicable Blue Economy with its multiplier effect on revenue generation and youths employment got a boost on Thursday as the entire maritime world acceded to a global security summit invitation, aimed at evolving a platform for developing a system to combat security threats in the Gulf of Guinea.
Tagged as the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) and slated for Abuja between October 7 – 9, 2019, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dakuku Peterside issued the invitation yesterday at the ongoing Nor Shipping Conference in Oslo, Norway, noting that conference will afford the international community the platform to develop actionable strategies to finally put an end to piracy and other security threats in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly Nigeria.
Speaking at a forum for international investors on the Investment Opportunities in Nigeria’s Blue Economy, Dakuku said the summit will also afford the international community an opportunity to tap into the vast investment potentials in the Nigerian maritime industry.
These potentials span ship building and repairs, fleet development, ship financing, port infrastructure development, maritime tourism, renewable energy ferry services, seafarer training, research and development, offshore logistics for the country’s oil industry, and aquaculture.
Dakuku noted that “the conference will bring together officials from international agencies, governments, donor partners, shipping firms, oil and gas industry, navies and coastguards and maritime regulators across the globe, to discuss the options for tackling security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, an area which accounts for more than 70 per cent of Africa’s oil and gas production and five per cent of global proven energy reserves”.
The objectives of the conference include defining the precise nature and scope of coordinated regional responses to maritime insecurity, evaluating the relevance of various external interventions and moving towards policy harmonisation and regional cooperation. The conference will also tackle threats to maritime security, strategise alternative approach to prevent cyber security threats and advocate for deeper global commitment to the deployment of resources for ending maritime insecurity within the region in the shortest possible time.
Peterside said the success of Nigeria in tackling insecurity along its own stretch of the Gulf has been down to robust investment in intelligence and maritime security assets as well as the commitment of the authorities to ending the threats.
These investments made under Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project will see to the acquisition of two special mission aircrafts, three helicopters and unmanned air vehicles.
Others are two special mission vessels and 17 interceptor patrol crafts. This is in addition to the land assets which include 16 armoured vehicles and an intervention team of 340 highly trained personnel.
The entire project also takes advantage of satellite technology to monitor Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone and feed real time information to a command and control centre.
He said the Nigerian zone of the Gulf has become relatively free of security threats and is now relatively safe, a position corroborated by the Norwegian ambassador to Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud.
The ambassador said Nigeria’s tackling of the security issue is so impressive that for more than a year he has not had call for help from Norwegian seafarers plying the route.
He also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for setting up a high-powered commission to decongest the approaches to the Apapa Port, five days after he raised alarm on the situation.
Already, Norway and Denmark have committed to partner with Nigeria in the organisation of the Global Maritime Security Conference.
Peterside said security was only one area of improvement in the maritime component of the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
He pointed at other interventions to include the building of a modern railway system to link all the ports to the hinterland, investment in truck transit parks, fixing of access roads and the reduction of the number of agencies at the ports.
The Director General is the Head of the Nigerian delegation, which also includes ship owners and other stakeholders, to the Nor-Shipping Conference and Exhibition 2019, a gathering of all major players in the global maritime industry.