Even if there are signs that Nigeria’s trade imbalance would reach $2.43 billion in 2022, there are concerns regarding the state of the country’s transportation industry right now.
Stakeholders bemoaned the government’s lackadaisical approach to promoting the industry, which is essential to the nation’s trade, at the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) Breakfast Series, which was held in Lagos.
Afolabi Olowookere, a guest speaker at the event and the managing director of Analyst Data Services and Resources, claimed that Nigeria’s transportation service trade has always been in deficit, indicating that the nation spends more than it brings in. According to him, the projected deficit for 2022 is $2.43 billion.
He bemoaned the fact that in 2020, passenger and freight deficits were $1.06 billion and $3.48 billion, respectively, and that in 2021, those deficits would rise to $1.19 billion and $2.66 billion, respectively.
Meanwhile, he claimed that in 2021, Nigeria’s GDP was only 0.01 percent impacted by water transportation. Olowookere, who also bemoaned the underdevelopment of the water transportation and maritime sector, claimed that the industry has significant potential for expansion and to contribute to the overall development of the nation, but that this potential has not been fully realized.
Agriculture accounts for 23.7% of Nigeria’s GDP, followed by manufacturing (14.83%), trade (13.42%), ICT (10.41%), construction (9.56%), mining, and quarrying (6.19%), and rail transportation and pipelines (0.00%).
This, in his opinion, demonstrated that the contribution of water transport to the N176.08 trillion GDP in 2021 was only N10 billion.
Olowookere remarked that while the marine industry appears to contribute little to GDP when the restricted definition of water transportation is taken into account, a larger definition reveals that it is a significant driver of other important sectors of the economy.
He cited the issues facing the maritime sector, which included weak transit and transshipment facilities, underdeveloped inland waterways, an uncertain maritime transport strategy, a low percentage of indigenous carriers, and security and safety issues.
Others include a lengthy, non-automated clearing process with many agencies involved; a lack of specialists and qualified labor; inadequate funding; and the failure to distribute the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
Funke Agbor, the president of NMLA, stated that the organization is worried about the maritime industry, a less-developed economic sector and that to address these issues, industry participants have to be brought in.
She claims that despite the issues having existed for more than 40 years; the NMLA intends to approach them freshly.
“We want to ensure that the industry is cooperating with us to implement the improvements we desire. We also intend to penetrate the government using ourselves as a lobbying organization. Most importantly, we all concurred that the marine industry needs to transform. We can demonstrate to the government that we can do things differently using facts and data, she said.
Agbor, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, used customs income as an illustration of how the desire to generate revenue prohibits customs from promoting trade.
We now need to prove to the government that customs can profitably facilitate trade in several industries, including logistics and freight, she continued.