President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said there was an urgent need to professionalise freight forwarding to reduce congestion at the nation's ports.
Jonathan said this at the opening of the Nigerian Maritime Expo (NIMAREX 2013), with the theme "Nigeria Maritime: Invest Now."
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, said that government was concerned about the congestion at the ports.
Jonathan said that the congestion was impacting negatively on the clearing and movement of cargoes.
"To this end, a stakeholders' meeting was organised and it was observed that the freight forwarders need to professionalise their practise in accordance with the CRFFN Act 2007," he said.
The president said that the maritime industry played a significant role in the global economy with over 90 per cent of world trade carried by sea.
According to him, Nigeria generates about 70 per cent of the ship traffic, cargo throughput and volume of trade in West and Central Africa sub-region.
Jonathan said that Nigeria's volume of trade had steadily risen from 82 million tonnes of cargo in 2008 to 93.7 million tonnes in 2009 and 100 million tonnes in 2012.
He said 1.4 million containers were used in moving cargoes in 2012.
"The maritime industry is therefore, growing and will no doubt position Nigeria in no distant future as the maritime hub for Africa," he said.
He commended the organisers of the exhibition for providing a forum for the display of various maritime products, new technologies and expertise.
"I hope that the holistic business experience that NIMAREX will offer through a combination of conferences and exhibition will avail investors the desired opportunities to explore the industry," Jonathan said.
The Chairman of NIMAREX 2013 Planning Committee, Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, said that the exhibition was an annual event to showcase the nation's enormous maritime endowments to the world.
According to her, the Nigerian maritime industry is like a virgin land full of untapped natural resources.
Onyema-Orakwusi said the industry had the potential and opportunities to achieve rapid and sustainable development.
"This sector is endowed with vast natural resources such as extensive coastline, aquatic animals and oil and gas deposits.
"Nigeria as a Country generates about 70 per cent of the ship traffic, cargo throughput and value of trade in West and Central African sub-region.
"All these natural and economic factors combined to create huge investment potential and opportunities in the maritime sector," the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes her as saying.
Onyema-Orakwusi urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene in security of the nation's maritime domain and reduce the cost of doing business at the ports.
"It is our view that if these challenges are addressed, it will create a more congenial atmosphere for investments to thrive," she said.
In his address, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, Chairman, Indigenous Ship owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN), noted that there were enormous untapped potential in the Nigerian maritime sector. (NAN)