This is coming as executive officers of the Port of Antwerp International are interest in Nigeria’s new National Maritime Transport Policy for possible windows of investment opportunity for Belgian entities.
The executives, Kristof Waterschoot, managing director of APEC-Antwerp/Flanders Port Training Centre and Port of Antwerp International and Mario Lievens, director at Port of Antwerp International, disclosed their interest at a meeting with the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh.
Head of NIMASA’s Corporate Communications, Philip Kyanet, said in Lagos, said that Jamoh was hosted by Waterschoot and Lievens at the Nigerian Belgian Chamber of Commerce, Onikan, Lagos, to discuss various projects of interest.
He notes that the visitors were particularly interested in the areas of training, technical support, and cooperation, in addition to strengthening the relationship between NIMASA and the Port of Antwerp, as well as interest in Inland ports.
According to him, the Belgian investors pointed out that Nigeria’s proposed National Maritime Transport Policy was being watched as it unfolded, to see how Belgium can come in with investments.
”We believe in Nigeria and we observe that the business climate in Nigeria can be difficult, but there is hardly any country without its peculiar difficulties,” they said.
Kyaney quoted Jamoh as noting that the wreck removal and recycling offered huge investment opportunities, stressing that Abuja was already planning a coordinated wreck removal policy to drive investment in the area.
”One area I will like the Belgian private sector to come in is wreck removal and wreck recycling. There is a huge investment opportunity there, and there is also a big room for collaboration. This is more so as the Federal Government is planning a coordinated policy on wreck removal”, Jamoh said.
While praising the long-standing diplomatic and economic relationship between Nigeria and Belgium, the NIMASA boss highlighted the Federal Government’s abiding interest in diversifying the economy, saying that the development of maritime infrastructure was part of the government’s diversification effort.
”The National Maritime Transport Policy, which is being developed, is part of a wider agenda purposed to build alternatives to oil. The maritime sector is consciously being opened up for investment, by local and foreign investors to build a sustainable blue economy.
Jamoh also sought Belgian partnership in the sea-time training of Nigerian seafarers and in the area of port safety and security.
Kyanet recalled that at a recent stakeholder validation meeting on the draft policy, Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, stated that when approved, the policy would lead to improved Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow, in addition to enhancing the ability of the Nigerian maritime sector to compete globally.
The Port of Antwerp International is a subsidiary of Port of Antwerp, Europe’s second largest port, after the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
It was established to expand the activities of the Port of Antwerp, beyond Europe, through consultancy, management solutions, investment projects and training.
Tobi however, explains that when these vessels run aground, she has to wait until there is high tide before the vessel can move again.
He also stated that with what is going on, the port has been recording low ship traffic just as the agency revenue profile from the Warri port has also dwindled.
He said: ‘‘with the shallow waters, there is less vessel traffic at the port; this has also put a stain on the projected revenue from the port.
‘‘Anyway they are working and they have said they want to dredge the channel and we are waiting for them to start the process of dredging, fix the breakwater and other needfuls.’’
Some of the effected ship owners say the low draft has become a source of worry for them because of the damage the shallow waters does to their vessels.