Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, says the National Maritime Transport Policy being developed by Nigeria would lead to improved Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow and enhance the ability of the Nigerian maritime sector to compete internationally. Saraki said this in Lagos at the opening of a stakeholders’ validation forum on the draft policy.
The minister said the transport policy would give Nigeria pride of place in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The free trade area, the world’s largest, was founded in 2018, and scheduled to come into effect from January 1, 2021.
The meeting was organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation to get stakeholders’ buy-in and input, as the policy document was being fine-tuned. The transport policy is expected to usher in a regime of robust maritime transport system in the country in line with international best practice.
Saraki underscored the strategic economic importance of maritime transportation, saying adoption of the transport policy would mark a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s economic competitiveness.
The minister presented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said “The National Maritime Transport Policy is a framework that will guide and sharpen the activities, actors and modus operandi in the maritime sector. It is an all-encompassing document that will skyrocket the sector to compete favourably in the global market. That is why this document is extremely important and crucial to the development of the sector.”
She said the National Maritime Transport Policy, which industry stakeholders had clamoured for since nearly two decades, “Will change the narrative in the maritime sector of our dear country and result in a paradigm shift that is generational.”
Saraki added, “It is encouraging to know that the maritime policy is coming up at a time when Nigeria has ratified the AfCTA Agreement and deposited it with the AU Secretariat. This is an agreement that will place Nigeria in place of leadership if we adequately prepare for the protocols. Therefore, it is expedient for us to make the maritime sector ready for the AfCFTA Transit Protocols and other international protocols for us to compete favourably in the regional and global market.”
“Nigeria, like other nations, has recognised the integral role policies play in developmental process and, as such, engendered different processes to drive her quest for a sustainable, feasible and generic National Maritime Transport Policy. This will boost the maritime sector and widen the horizon to enable it serve the domestic market and have comparative advantage globally,” the Permanent Secretary added.