By NBF News

Nigerian government has embarked on collaboration with South Africa on ways of developing maritime potentials in Nigeria, particularly in the area of ship building and ship repairs. The partnership deal is being brokered on behalf of government by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the nation's apex maritime regulatory agency.

Already, the Director-General of the agency, Mr. Temisan Omatseye has paid a working visit to South Africa where he inspected the country's shipyard (South African Shipyard, SAS) in Durban, after which he also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South African authorities. The step, which is seen as a major action towards the actualization of virile shipbuilding and ship repair industry in the country is expected to commence in full swing any time from now.

Under the agreement, which has NIMASA, SAS, and a subsidiary of the Nigerian Bank of Industry, the Leasing Company of Nigeria (LECON) as partners, Southern African Shipyards will finance the development of modern shipyards in Nigeria and operate them with the use of Nigerian labor and local content as much as feasible.

The agreement also has provision for marine engineering technology transfer program from South Africa to Nigeria. The initial workforces for the Shipyards are expected to undergo training and skills development at the SAS facility in Durban.

This will ultimately lead to the establishment of a 'train the trainer program' for more employees to be trained in Nigeria . NIMASA is expected to facilitate government incentives to ensure the success of the project, encourage the building and maintenance of vessels to be done in Nigeria, and provide a stable and transparent regulatory regime in order to guarantee the sustainable success of the project on a long-term basis.

On its part, the Bank of Industry of Nigeria through LECON is expected to be the local financial partner of SAS activities in Nigeria. The DG NIMASA Mr. Temisan Omatseye expressed satisfaction at the facilities and technical competence of SAS particularly in the area of ship repairs. He encouraged the Southern African Shipyards to commence immediate operations in Nigeria by providing ship repair services before graduating into ship building.

He also announced that the Agency is committed to providing incentives for any company desirous of investing in Shipyards in Nigeria and SAS will benefit immensely from the program, being the pioneer company to invest in the Nigerian Ship building and repair industry.

'Our partnership will be symbiotic in nature and I can assure you that NIMASA will provide the enabling environment to ensure safety of your investment. We have some Government dockyards which are to be operated on commercial basis and you will be invited to look at the possibility of collaboration in the immediate future on a public private sector partnership arrangement to modernize the shipyards and put it to optimum use,' Omatseye told his hosts.