By Steve Agbota

The Federal Government is eyeing over $2.7 billion annual revenue from marine and blue economy through a strategic National Policy for the sector.

Director, Maritime Safety and Security Department, Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, Babatunde Hafiz, who stated this at a stakeholder forum in Lagos on Tuesday, said the ministry has commenced the process of developing a National Policy on marine and blue economy, which will play a great role in enhancing the performance of the shipping sub-sector, boost trade facilitation and ultimately catalyse economic growth.

He said the development of the policy will provide a comprehensive framework/blueprint to deliver the expected over $2.7 billion contributions of the marine and blue economic sector to the national economy and tackle revenue leakages, through the envisaged streamlined approach to the management of the sector.

According to him, the ministry is determined to work towards the disbursement  of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).

“CVFF is an intervention fund established by the Cabotage Act to assist indigenous shipping operators in acquiring new vessels to enhance indigenous capacity building. The CVFF is a strategic instrument within the legislative framework to stimulate the expansion of domestic shipping capability.

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“To ensure the full implementation of the CVFF, the Ministry has constituted a Committee to develop clear guidelines and mechanisms to facilitate improved access to the Fund by Stakeholders in the Shipping Sub Sector. This initiative is envisaged to ensure that the Fund achieves its goal of providing the required financial support for indigenous shipowners to acquire, construct and repair their vessels.

“The CVFF will allow the indigenous shipowners to fund the acquisition of more vessels at a single-digit interest rate. Limiting Cabotage trade to Nigeria-owned, crewed and operated ships, will increase the number of ship fleets/tonnage in the country and attract healthy competition with foreign shipping companies in international shipping,” he added.

He said the CVFF will also enhance the employment of Nigerians in the maritime sector, increase locally induced Cabotage trade and movement of passengers and cargo by indigenous shippers.

Besides, he said the arrangements to herald the establishment of Regional Maritime Development Bank is at advanced stage.

“The RMDB establishment is ongoing, with Nigeria set to host the headquarters and having the highest share among MOWCA member states,” he said.