The Federal Government of Nigeria has restated its commitment towards deepening its strategic cooperation in the area of maritime transport with other African nations, saying that the maritime sector is crucial to seamless trade and effective economic integration of nations within the continent.

Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, who gave this assurance, spoke at the ongoing two-day regional workshop on the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework with the theme:”Cooperation Framework: A Process to mainstreaming the maritime sector”, organised by the International Maritime Organisation IMO and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa UNECA with strong support from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, holding in Lagos.

Represented at the event by the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Minister noted that the importance of the maritime sector to the global economy cannot be over-emphasized, given that more than 90 per cent of international trade and commerce is conducted through the maritime transportation.

 The Minister also noted that as Africa forges ahead with negotiations for the phase two of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA, the maritime industry remains crucial for seamless trade and effective economic integration of African countries.

He said: “Our approach towards the realization of Sustainable Development Goals SGDs is contingent on our joint efforts to put in place cooperation framework in collaboration with critical stakeholders using the maritime sector as a veritable tool to promote agricultural development, food security, industrialization and economic transformation of our various nations not only in the region, but across the continent.

“Many maritime states in the region have dedicated considerable attention to the development, draft and implementation of national framework to give expression to the Sustainable Development Goals. Nigeria is currently working with the IMO for the development of a Maritime Transport Plan Strategy, which when completed, will provide a robust enabling framework for achieving Nigeria’s maritime objectives.

“More so, Nigeria’s Transport Plan Strategy, when fully operational, will foster Public-Private Partnership PPP collaboration across the country”.

He therefore commended the IMO, UNECA, NIMASA and other sister agencies and stakeholders for putting the workshop together, which he believed would help in mainstreaming the maritime sector into the economies of African nations.

Meanwhile, Director, Technical Cooperation Division of the IMO, Juvenal Shiundu, who spoke at the event, noted that IMO was willing to assist member states to mainstream their maritime sectors into the national economies.

He noted that the workshop in Nigeria, which was the 4th in the series, having held similar ones in Chile in 2018, Bangkok, and Nairobi, Kenya in 2019 respectively, was one of the ways the IMO supports its member nations towards achieving maritime mainstreaming.

He however disclosed that responses so far show that the workshops are yielding fruitful results, as they are raising the consciousness and awareness among government officials and policy makers on the need to mainstream the maritime sector into their various national economies.

DG NIMASA, Peterside, who spoke earlier during a welcome address, disclosed that Nigeria was working on an economic diversification policy, which is expected to also focus on the maritime sector.

He however expressed regrets that the framework as well as four pillars of the diversification policy have been developed and are being worked upon but unfortunately, the maritime industry is not one of the four pillars.