In a bid to have a world-class Ship Registry and enhance the Ease of Doing Business in the maritime sector, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has concluded plans to set up an automated ship registration process through online and electronic procedure. The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated this recently in Lagos at an interactive session with shipowners.
The forum discussed how to improve the quality of the Nigerian Ship Register, with stakeholders promising to support the initiative. They specifically pledged to fund the ship registration automation process.
Dakuku told the stakeholders that the Agency had acquired software licence for the automation of the Nigerian Ship Registry, which is rated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as the second largest in Africa, by tonnage, after Liberia, and 46th in the world. He said automation was the only way to boost the worth of the registry and quicken business processes.
According to the DG, “Our principal aim is to achieve online electronic registration, accept electronic copies of documents and issue electronic certificates. Our goal as a Maritime Safety Administration is to create a world class Ship Registry, which will be attractive to shipowners with the aim of maintaining the influence of Nigeria in evolving international commercial and regulatory environment for shipping.”
Dakuku disclosed that in 2018 and 2019, the Nigerian registry attracted two high index capacity vessels – Egina FPSO and MT Ultimate. He said NIMASA was confident that a lot more could be done to assist Nigerians in acquiring vessels, hence its intensified effort to ensure the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). He stated that the Agency was in partnership with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to drive capacity in the maritime industry.
The Director-General also highlighted the effort the Agency had made to secure an internationally competitive ship registry for the country, which include auditing the register of Nigerian vessels,redesigning and producing new ship registry certificates, and automation of the ship registry. Others are upgrade of the ship registry filing facility, review of ship registration guidelines, and ISO 9001: 2015 Certification.
Dakuku noted that some of the biggest ship registries in the world, such as the UK Ship Register, currently maintained a second or international register to attract tonnage, while using the closed register to develop indigenous capacity. To that end, he said the Agency was considering establishing a second register to help grow Nigerian fleet and enhance the country’s role in international commercial trade.
The DG called on stakeholders to assist the Agency’s new computerisation initiative. “Our esteemed stakeholders, whilst keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the objective of building a world class Ship Registry, we hope to rely on your guidance, experience, industry know-how and cooperation to endow the desperately needed credence and international respect for the Nigerian Flag,” he stated.
In his presentation on background and development of ship registration, a governing council member of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Mr. Mina Oforiokuma noted that technically, Nigeria’s registry was the largest in Africa. Oforiokuma said this was based on the fact that Liberia operated an open registry, domiciled in the United States of America. More so, most of the vessels registered in Nigeria trade in Africa, he stated.
Speaking also, the Chairman of the Ship Registry Committee, Engr. Emmanuel Ilori, urged NIMASA to set clear timelines for the administrative process of ship registration and put in place precise change in flag instructions.
Ilori advised the Agency to ensure that qualified tonnage measures were employed to serve in the safety department. He commended NIMASA’s drive to enshrine full automation of all ship registration processes, revealing that it is one of the recommendations of the Ship Registry Review Committee.
The high-point of the event was the unveiling of the new high-tech ship registration certificates, which comes in various categories namely; Certificate of Nigeria Registry; Certificate of Nigeria Registry (provisional); Nigeria Certificate of Registry (Fishing Vessel); Nigeria Certificate of Registry (Fishing Vessel Provisional). Others are Nigeria Certificate of Registry (Bare Boar Charter Vessel) and Certificate of Nigeria Ship Registry (Cabotage).
The present management of NIMASA began the drive to restructure the Nigerian Ship Registry by inaugurating a Committee on the Review of the Activities and Operations of the Nigerian Ship Registration Office on February 27, 2018. The committee headed by Engr. Emmanuel Ilori was given the task to examine the status of the Ship Registry in line with international best standards and recommend requisite improvement measures.
The committee submitted its report in 2019 with far reaching recommendations grouped into short, medium and long term measures. The submission of the report was followed by the inauguration of an Implementation Monitoring Committee on August 20, 2019 to chart a course for the implementation of the recommendations.