- Ship Owners, Importers Back NIMASA’s 5% Growth Forecast
The Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), importers and clearing agents have urged the Federal Government to work with the five per cent growth forecast by the Nigerian Maritime Administrator and Safety Agency ( NIMASA).
According to them, there has been a steady increase in the level of investments and freight earnings from the sector, urging the government and its agencies at the ports to work with the forecast and see how to improve on it.
Its President Alhaji Aminu Umar said NISA aligned with the five per cent maritime growth, forecast by NIMASA. He added that commercial banks had shown interest in financing indigenous ship owners, contrary to what obtained during the 2016 economic recession.
He noted that foreign fund managers have been coming into the country to discuss how to fund maritime assets.
Umar said there was no doubt that the industry could achieve the five per cent growth and probably surpass it.
“Based on what we have seen since the beginning of this year, we believe we can surpass the five per cent growth forecast, if not double digit We believe it would be close to the double digit in the maritime sector.
“The foreign reserve of the country has gone up, this showed a positive impact in the economy, which means that our banks have the funds to fund shipping. We have seen positive impact on the banks because they are already talking about funding a lot of maritime assets. So in my own opinion, the outlook is very positive,” he said.
Umar continued: “Two years ago, banks did not even entertain you talking about funding; we are now seeing a lot of positive investments, a lot of private equity funds are now coming to invest in maritime assets. We have seen foreign funds managers, who are coming from Europe and are also talking about funding maritime assets here. We believe the outlook would be great for this year and 2019.
“For the past two years, the freight earnings have been down since 2016, but we are looking at it now that the freight earnings is already going up.”
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) outgoing President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, said NIMASA’s five per cent growth projection was posible because the world maritime economic situation was improving and Nnigeria would benefit from it.
According to him, many importers are bringing cargoes to the country instead of diverting them to neigbouring countries’ports, while ship owners are planning to invest in the industry because freight rates are going up.
“The projection made by NIMASA is one of the tools we need to grow the maritime industry. The forecast will assist in the areas of having and keeping accurate records and plan for the future.
“ The forecast will help to know if we are able to meet our target and if there are things we must put in place like good road net work, quick evacuation of cargoes, review of government policy and tariffs at the ports, among others. We pray that this year and next year will be the leading light to the peak in freight and maritime robust earnings for the country,” Shittu said.
An importer, Mr Felix Abraham, urged the government to pay adequate attention to the industry because of the huge potential it holds for the nation. Maritime trade, he said, is the bedrock of the global business, and its connection to import, export and the growth of the world economy.
“ That is why the five per cent growth forecast by NIMASA is a tool we must all work with to grow the economy,” Abraham said.