By Genevieve Aningo
Women in the maritime sector have been urged to explore opportunities in future shipping driven by technology, blue economy, ocean sustainability and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).
The Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) in a one-day conference on “The Future of Shipping: Weathering the Storms, Sailing High” last week in Lagos, stressed the need to consciously uphold the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 for female participation in the maritime sector.
President of the Chamber, Mr. Andy Isichei addressing participants said that women would stand better chances if they preemptively position themselves to embrace new narratives, tackle imminent challenges and explore opportunities future shipping will bring.
According to him, future shipping would be more driven by technological advancements, technological disruptions, zero carbon emission, greener shipping, blue economy, ocean sustainability and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among others, as such, the preparedness for the new phase is key to a continuous regime of female inclusion.
The President who was represented by the Acting Director General, Mrs Vivian Chimezie-Azubuike also noted that the disruptions necessitated by the post COVID era has created more opportunities in the industry for women participation at all levels.
“It has become imperative for women to position themselves to embrace the new narrative and brace up for the imminent challenges and opportunities these of the future of shipping which is driven by technological advancements, technological disruptions, zero carbon emission, greener shipping, blue economy, ocean sustainability and for us in Africa, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among others’ said Isichei.
Lending her voice, Maritime Lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and immediate past Continental President for Women in Maritime Africa, Jean Chiazor Anishere, stated that 90% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is from sea trade and 85% accounts of external trade as such shipping plays a pivotal role in the nation’s economy.
She maintained that the sustainability of the sector and future of shipping is dependent on women.
Speaking on factors which militate against shipping in Nigeria and Africa continent especially in the face of AfCFTA, maritime lawyer, Dr. Emeka Akabogu said that Africa is in a significant economic deficiency because Africans trade more with countries in Europe, Asia, and America than within themselves.
He noted that Africa must improve, expand and promote intra African trade to achieve a liberalised market across the continent.
“We need to trade within ourselves first, optimize the skill and economic opportunities from trading within ourselves before we can progress further’”, he stated.
On her part, President of Women International Shipping & Trade Association, Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke called for smart ports and for a deliberate linking of trade across 37 maritime nations in Africa.
“We need to be strategic and focused in creating the linkages first before we think of transportation, cargoes and delivery of goods. Planning is key. We must think linkages, transportation and access to curb the volume of trade between Africa and international countries. The error has always been that the industry builds a port without thinking on how to access it.
“Smart ports are ports that have reduced the number of movements of people and reduced paper in terms of documentation. We must embrace the single window that guides all the stakeholders where all the information can be gotten in terms of cargo clearance, location of cargo, in terms making sure that seamless and cost effective cargo, delivery and discharge are carried out in all ports”, Mrs. Ezeoke stated.