The Managing Director, NLNG Ship Management Limited (NSML), Mr. Abdul-Kadir Ahmed has said that Nigeria must embrace the global maritime standards in the areas of safety, efficiency, security, capacity building and competence to maximise potentials of the Blue Economy.
According to him, the Blue Economy is not local; but an international industry with global standards, adding that it is the responsibility of regulators to make sure that these standards are strictly adhered to by operators in the sector.
Mr. Ahmed made this known while delivering his keynote address at the 2022 edition of the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) Conference/Award with the theme: “Maximizing Nigeria’s Blue Economy Through Automation”, on Monday, December 19, 2022.
His words: “The set of rules that contain the activities of players within the sector apply not just to Nigerians; they are a global set of standards that deal with safety, quality, efficiency and security. And in that falls the purview of the regulatory bodies; the ability to define and enforce those standards, and most importantly, the ability to carry the industry and ensure that these standards are upheld.
“The second element pertains to capacity and competence, the ability not only to develop but also to domesticate the capacity to drive the Blue Economy. It is very critical and without the people and competent hands, it is impossible to ensure that the Blue Economy will develop in a sustainable manner.
“NSML is a subsidiary of NLNG, primarily responsible for shipping and maritime services and operations, and the aim of the creation is simply to develop and domesticate the global skillsets when it comes to shipping and marine services, which are critical to the Blue Economy.
“It is also quite important when you look at it from that perspective, to recognise that at the end of the day, the development of our resources will have an effect and impact on the lives of people. Nigeria as a country of 200 million people, with over 50% of our people below the age of 25, requires us to sustainably develop our resources in such a way that we can provide the means of livelihood for this vast majority of people. And to effectively do that, there has to be a focus on the development of capacity and skill set”.
Emphasising on the importance of safety, security, competence and capacity, he pointed out that it is not enough to have an industry with these standards, but one that enables, drives and imbibes these standards, “because they are critical in terms of how we develop and sustain the Blue Economy”.
Speaking further on maximising the Blue Economy through automation, the NSML boss noted that the aforementioned elements are also very germane to achieving this.
“I have been thinking quite extensively about the theme of today’s conference, and from my perspective, it is an effective and sustainable development of our Blue economy, but looking at it from the angle of automation, how do we automate? All of these elements that I have mentioned will come into play.
“I think the (AMJON) president also mentioned something about automating the regulatory infrastructure, and that is quite critical. And it goes beyond just safety enforcement, but also creating that environment that, as he rightly pointed out, enables ease of doing business. For us to really move this sector forward, it is important that there is clarity, a level playing field, competitiveness, and a drive towards efficiency, safety and security”, he said.
Mr. Ahmed who noted that journalists covering the maritime sector have a critical role to play in checking the activities of stakeholders, tasked them to professionally and objectively perform their watchdog duties in order to ensure accountability of all participants in the industry.
According to him, “this can be done by understanding the very nature of the industry, the elements that drive the changes we see, and events like this are a good place where we can rub minds together and share ideas about the nuances about an industry that is fast evolving. And I think that carrying out research will not just enable you to come up with reports on the opportunities and challenges that exist, but most importantly, you can hold us accountable in terms of what we need to do.
“Hence, my appeal is for us to continue on this collaborative path by creating an understanding on the nature of the industry, of the opportunities of the sector and the requirements of the industry. You can continue to hold us accountable, drive us to be the best we can be and most importantly, ensure that, as the name entails, the Blue Economy is not just about exploiting the resources, but doing so sustainably and in a manner that drives the economy forward and changes the lives of our people”.