BLUE ECONOMY PROJECT: SON CALLS FOR HONEST DECLARATIONS
As the Blue Economy has the potential to generate $4 trillion annually
Unhappy with the influx of substandard and fake products, the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), has appealed to Nigerian Importers to make honest declarations and be compliant with trade rules and regulations if the Blue Economy Project is to succeed.
The Director General of the SON, Farouk Salim said this at a Training Workshop organized by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria, AMJON, in Lagos on Thursday, with the theme: An Insight Into Nigeria’s Blue Economy Project.
The DG who was represented at the event by Benedict Preake, Chief Technical Officer, SON , called on management of the Nigeria Customs Service to collaborate with the agency in furtherance to streamline the NICIS2 portal for effective monitoring and compliance of shippers and freight agents.
Salim also added that the African continent had a long way in properly harnessing the economic power of its marine and maritime economy.
Salim said that the added African wealth that can be generated from the ocean is conservatively valued at US$ 4 trillion, with estimated goods and services of $2.5 trillion annually.
He added that the blue had the potential to create both economic growth and development in Nigeria.
“The Blue Economy has the potential to create economic growth and development. The added African wealth that can be generated from the ocean is conservatively valued at $4 trillion, with estimated goods and services of $2.5 trillion annually.”
He said that relative inefficiency in African port activities which tended to slow throughput processing times leading to long cargo turnover periods and lower potential incomes would result from faster port processing.
Analyzing the causes of the problems hampering sustainable Blue Economy in the maritime sector growth, he listed six key strategic difficulties.
Political Will: The lack of broad political consensus on the nature of Nigeria’s fiscal federalism has deep economic implications, including making the blue economy a fragile project. If we must operate optimally and make the project work, every port must be made functional (Calabar, Port Harcourt, Warri, Lagos etc)
Economy: A blue economy would require competitive and efficient use of coastline resources. Nigerian ports and maritime facilities are currently costlier to operate and manage than ports in neighbouring countries such as Cotonu port in Benin Republic Lome Port in Togo or Tema Port in Ghana.
“The high cost of Nigerian ports reduces port patronages, efficiencies, operations and related activities; this, in turn, reduces potential employment ,optimal utilization of ports, competiveness and decreased tax revenues.
“This port inefficiencies become more imperative, especially now that Nigeria has become a signatory to “The African Continental Free trade Area deal’’, our operations must be carried out in a less expensive and more efficient administrative environment.
“High incidence of piracy, smuggling, human trafficking and drug peddling makes Nigeria’s maritime business a precarious entrepreneurial activity. The high presence or influence of wharf gangs has created a marine ‘inverse’ ecosystem that is socially precarious.
“Technology adoption is a critical aspect of the evolving blue economy, from stevedoring to cargo handling and inspections, the use of machines has become a compelling necessity to remove the obvious delays and bottle necks that occurs with multi-point human interface in shipping operations.
“Through the digitization of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and use of electronic monitoring and inspection technology has gone a long way in improving port turnaround time and scaled down the levels of delays that result from high levels of human discretion, we can improve on the present scale.
The port environment in Nigeria is poor and nurtures a culture of weak morals and perverse hygiene. Port infrastructures are old and badly maintained while marine shorelines are highly polluted from industrial effluence and waste products, habitually thrown into the dock waters by port users and refuse disposal vendors. The pollution of the ports marine water creates challenges for environmental sustainability.
“The laws and procedures guiding maritime services in Nigeria are comprehensive and fairly robust, the problem seems to stems from procedural enforcement than with the written regulation.
Speaking earlier , President of AMJON , Mr. Paul Ogbuokiri reiterated the association’s commitment to ensuring a quarterly training for members.
He noted that the training was centred on how to report the Blue Economy Project effectively by members of the association.