Welcome Speech of Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside, Director-General NIMASA, at the Opening Ceremony of the AAMA, Abuja, Nigeria.
Your Excellency, President Federal Republic of Nigeria,
It is my pleasure and that of the entire maritime community in Nigeria to welcome you to Abuja, the scenic capital city of Nigeria. We consider it a privilege to host this important conference that coalesces Africa’s maritime elite, the men and women who determine standards, when, how, what and who to sail on the high seas, the jugular of peace, wealth and security. I refer to the regulators, policy implementers and stakeholders, the crème de la crème of Africa’s maritime space who work together in a bubble of ideas and innovation for our continent. They chart the seas and oceans to optimize their benefits for the development of our people.
Nigeria has waited with bated breath for this day and year to host this all-important gathering. We are particularly delighted that this conference, the 3rd in the series, after the first in Mombasa, Kenya and the second in Sandton, South Africa,is holding anchor here on our shores. Nigeria’s place in the maritime world is not only deserved, it is common knowledge. It is special in the maritime community in Africa for a number of reasons. Nigeria accounts for over 60% of the total seaborne traffic in volume and value in West and Central Africa region. As the sixth largest OPEC exporting country, we contribute significantly to the global energy supply and wet cargo traffic. My country’s signature adorns all continental maritime initiatives and charters that seek to promote the development of Africa. We are geo-strategically located as a major littoral state in the Gulf of Guinea. By all estimation, we are a leader, high on the crest of maritime nations, determined to advance African maritime prosperity. So, hosting a conference of the continent’s maritime administrators is overdue.
It is no coincidence that this conference of maritime administrators and stakeholders is coming two years after African Leaders through the African Union subscribed to seven (7) key aspirations encapsulated in the Agenda 2063 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2015 and three years after the adoption of Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050.
Only recently, to further reinforce the critical role maritime can play in the development of Africa, the African Union (A.U.) special summit of heads of government on maritime security, safety and development in Lome, Togo, 15th October, 2016 aligned with us. They adopted a Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development aimed at making Africa’s maritime space the key driver of the continent’s socio-economic development. This document was endorsed by 43 out of 54 African nations.
The Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA), inspired by African Union maritime transport charter provides us, as stakeholders in maritime sector, a platform to give effect to the various charters adopted by our heads of government whether AIM 2050, Agenda 2063 or Lome charter. AAMA is also a veritable continental institutional framework for peer review, to discuss maritime governance in our continent, develop an implementation framework for a Pan African maritime policy and strategy, take leadership in controlling our continent’s maritime domain and promote Intra-African partnership to address our peculiar maritime challenges. We have a collective responsibility to promote new awareness and appreciation of the inevitable role maritime transport and the blue economy can play as enabler of the economic development of our continent. Africa is looking up to this conference and we cannot afford to disappoint our people.
At this juncture, it is time to give thanks. Let me particularly appreciate the enormous support we received from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in hosting this conference. IMO provided both intellectual and financial resources towards the successful organization of this conference. Special gratitude to our Interim Chairman and host of Interim Secretariat, SAMSA of South Africa and our major partners,Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) for their various roles.
Special thanks to the Honourable Minister of Transportation of Nigeria for his unflinching support.
I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will sail to its shore, it will mark the beginning of concerted cooperative and collaborative efforts at tackling Africa’s maritime administration challenges as well as tapping into our limitless opportunities. Africa’s water ways will be better at the end of this conference than it was at the beginning.
It is time to set sail.
You are all welcome on board.