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Need For Ecomarine Development In Africa



Economists are united in the view that a country’s capacity to create wealth is most facilitated by favourable foreign/trade and supportive infrastructure. The critical determinant of trade development is the transportation cost component, which efficiency is often determined by the tight type technology.

That not withstanding, a number of people have continued to under value the importance of maritime transport in the overall development of Africa.

Ecomarine is an African business concept in which African goods and services  destined for Africans, move on African-owned ships and trucks, and  are stored in African-owned warehouses not forgetting the development of African skills in marine services and technology. Indeed, the conspicuous absence of dedicated coastal shipping services in the region, and the demise of the erstwhile National Shipping Lines, have compounded familiar shortcomings of the other modes of transportation thus, prompting the need for the creation of Ecomarine.

It was difficult to comprehend how and why, a region with a homogenous maritime coastline, stretching over 2,000 nautical miles, and covering  27 different countries, could afford to remain without a dedicated coastal shipping service.

The domination of the regional shipping industry by foreign multinational conglomerates, whose legitimate business practices greatly undermine the interest of the inhabitants of the region further exacerbated the situation.

The cost of moving a container from one part of the region to another is enormous. It is costly as if moving a container from anywhere in Europe to the region. Records also show that the cost of transportation on consumer goods in the region stands at approximately 14 per cent as against the average of 4-6 per cent in all other regions of the world.

Ecomarine which, to be precise, represents a private sector response to the situation, is conceived as an integrated maritime-based solution, designed to provide coastal cargo and passenger shipping services, the construction of load centers and inland dry port, coastal shipping feeder services as well as related linkage infrastructures and services.

As a way of showing commitment to partnership, the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) had signed a grant agreement of about US $400,000 to fund engineering studies for the proposed automated trans-shipment platform.

Ecomarine’s mission, is to make maritime transport the natural choice in the movement of goods and travelers in the region, by proving customer-focused, competitive world class coastal shipping services.

The rationale behind the Ecomarine concept stretches beyond the direct benefits it stand to procure to the wide spectrum of immediate stakeholders, to include the positive impact on the socio-political and economic landscape of the entire region.

As a force in the promotion of intra-regional trade, the free movement of goods and persons, tourism, cultural exchanges and the more effective, interest-related bonding of regional citizens, Ecomarine stands out in a class of its own, as the vector of a much-desired integration of the sub region.

Indeed, there are lots of benefits that are derivable in the Ecomarine business, which could be summed up in terms of economies of scale, employment, wealth creation, poverty alleviation, industrial development and economic welfare among others.

Even with the promulgation of the Cabotage Act that gives Nigerians more courage to undertake full maritime business, Ecomarine  is designed to join forces in conscientising regional operators as well as spour them to actions for overall development.

Besides the pride of place in pioneering a regional shipping venture, investors will benefit from the cross-boarder insurance cover being provided to Ecomarine by Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency of the World Bank Group.

Business in general terms will benefit from increased market access, increased production and consequently witness increased profits. Government, on their parts, will enjoy greater political stability resulting from reduced poverty, and greater general welfare for the populace.

Foreign trade remains an important economic activity in the region. Available statistics show that trans-shipment cargo that flows to West Africa exceeds 633,000 Twenty foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) annually, while estimated passengers is put at only 200,000, and this can be explained by the fact that sea traveling is highly underdeveloped in the region.

The most heavily used routes in the region are accessible by sea and maritime transport, and this remains relatively cheaper and safer than all other modes. Therefore, the shortcomings of the other modes of transport in the region present an enormous potential from which Ecomarine can tap.

There might be competition from the other modes of transport, albeit their various limitations. Traveling by air is expensive if not prohibitive and connectively remains a major handicap. The decried excessive check points, administrative bottlenecks and other hazards constitute a serious limitation to traveling by road, while poor infrastructure, outdated rolling stock and the absence of rail links make it practically impossible to travel by train from one country to the other, in the region. The profitability and the viability of Ecomarine enjoy the support of some multi-lateral institutions like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with secretariat in Abuja.

ECOWAS did not only midwife the delivery of the Ecomarine baby, but has since birth acted as facilitator in every possible way and that facilitated the decision of Heads of States and Governments of the Community to grant Ecomarine “National Carrier Status” in all member countries.

Ecomarine also enjoys the patronage of the foremost marine organisations of the region, the Maritime Organisation of West Africa and Central Africa (MOWCA) which has adopted a policy framework for a regional maritime Cabotage law, a regional coast guard network and a regional maritime fund.

The Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) has also thrown its weight behind the priority berthing rights and other concessions to regional coastal shipping companies like Ecomarine.

There may be weaknesses and threats to Ecomarine existence and survival, ranging from the current domination of the industry by foreign liners and investors to political instability and competition from new entrants, but these can be mitigated through formation of strategic alliance, and adoption of competitive world class shiping standards to compete on equal terms.

What is on ground now with respect to operations of Ecomarine is not enough, and there is need for a more serious efforts, having known its benefits.

The region as at now is not adequately served by sea transport, and the growth rate potential for intra-regional and trans-shipment cargo is very high.

That is why the formation of New Partnership for African Devenlopment (NEPAD) initiative is timely, and represent tremendous opportunities for the growth of Ecomarine.

Ecomarine is the concrete example of what NEPAD is all about, because it not only captures in essence the principles and mechanisms advocated in NEPAD plan, but it also produces the desired result.

Being positioned to dominate the regional maritime industry, and with profitable business with strong cash flow, no effort should be spared to develop the Ecomarine project.


Corlins Walter

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Redeployed Customs Officers Assume Office At New Posts



Redeployed Zonal coordinators and controllers affected by the recent swapping exercise in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have since taken over their new posts.
Assistant Comptroller General and Comptrollers affected by the change of batons have gone into action in the respective Zones and Area Commands respectively.
As at Press time, ACG Bello Jibo, the new Coordinator, Zone A, has begun to hold forth at the Harvey Road Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos.
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, Jaiyeoba, and Shuaibu have resumed their duties as Customs Area Controllers of Tincan Island Port, Apapa and Idiroko Commands respectively.
Comptroller Timi Bomodi has also begun overseeing customs activities at Seme-Krake Border Command.
In an exclusive chat with The Tide, Chairman, Seme Chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agent (ANLCA), Chief Oyekachukwu Ojinma (aka Sule) described the outgoing Controller of the Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, as a very hard-working and dedicated man, while welcoming the new Customs Area Controller to the border post.
The ANLCA Chairman expressed his wish for a successful tenure of office for Compt. Timi Bomodi.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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‘Electricity Act Will Transform Power Sector’



Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has stated that the recently signed Nigerian Electricity Act, 2023, will play a fundamental role in transforming the power sector.
According to him, it will unlock the potential of the energy mix and promote the integration of renewable energy technologies into the grid system.
Speaking at the ongoing Nigeria Energy Conference and exhibition in Lagos, Adelabu said the Act aims to create an environment that supports sustainable growth and investment in the power industry by focusing on accelerated private investment and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
“As a game-changer that reformed the NESI, the Electricity Act will, undoubtedly, engender increased access to electricity and regulatory oversight, clean energy transition, improved service delivery, and infrastructural developments.
“In particular, the act will stimulate economic growth by creating a conducive environment for investment and competition. It will generate job opportunities, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract foreign direct investments”, he said.
The Minister called on operators in the power sector to intensify their efforts towards improving communication with the general public, emphasising that the Nigerian masses have a lot of roles to play in safeguarding power infrastructure.
He said issues such as vandalism, passing of meters, and damage to TCN and DisCo infrastructure must be addressed holistically to make significant gains in the power sector.
Adelabu emphasised that the power sector is a cornerstone for economic growth in the country and that the gains made over the years in the power sector can only be consolidated by unlocking equity investments and funds for power development.
He said: “Of course, a lot of investment is required in the power sector. In three weeks, I’ve seen humongous investments that have come into this sector.
“But what are the steps that are required for those investment opportunities to reap the benefit of those investments, additional investments in the form of equity and capex need to come into this industry.
“The power sector is not an industry for short-term players to invest in less than two to three years and expect to make maximum benefits.
“The industry requires medium to long-term investments. Investors must understand that the moment we can break even, we will start making profits in the power sector.
Adelabu also urged operators in the NESI value chain to improve their service delivery, adding that Nigeria’s energy expansion plan of 60,000 Megawatts by 2060 is an achievable target.
He, therefore, called on gas companies, GenCos, TCN, and DIScO to showcase their success stories in generating and transmitting power to the last mile that pays for all the segments of operators in the value chain.

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‘Nigeria Loses $1.5bn Annually To Malnutrition’



Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, has said Nigeria loses $1.5 billion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually due to micronutrient deficiencies.
Bagudu therefore called for coordinated efforts to ensure a swift response with expected positive outcomes.
A statement released by the Ministry said the Minister disclosed this, last Tuesday, while speaking at the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria in Abuja.
In the statement, Bagudu noted that the government was determined to tackle malnutrition through the inclusion of nutrition in the National Development Plan, and the Nigeria Agenda 2050.
“It is also a commitment to achieving optimal nutrition status for all Nigerians with particular attention to the vulnerable group as highlighted in the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition”, he said.
Bagudu, who urged experts in nutrition in the country to research and develop innovations that will boost nutrition, explained that doing this “would contribute towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring Universal Health Coverage, and bringing about significant positive changes in the nutrition sector in Nigeria”.
He told members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria “to prioritise innovation and research in the field of nutrition towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage and transformation of the landscape of nutrition in Nigeria.
“Nigeria currently requires nutrition professionals who have extensive knowledge, good communication skills to address nutrition education, emotional intelligence as well and a good understanding of self-motivation and drive to address nutrition dynamics”.
The Minister urged the NSN to embrace technology, leverage digital solutions, and invest in research and development to find sustainable and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s nutrition challenges.
He assured members of the NSN that his ministry would strengthen coordination and provide the required leadership for the nutrition sector.
The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, in his goodwill message, said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) had identified areas of key commitments for the realisation of a healthier citizen and country, including increasing budgetary spending on nutrition and strengthening the nutrition profile.

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