Former Vice President of Africa Region, World Bank, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has asserted that only competition can drive development of the shipping sector.
Ezekwesili stated this after a studied look at the sector and contended that this was the only way to tackle the stunted growth in the maritime sector of the economy.
She stated this in a paper titled 'Financing Options for Shipping Development' which she delivered on the sideline of the just-concluded Nigeria Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) 2013.
Ezekwesili, who was also the former Minister of Education during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's administration, argued that the sector has not opened up effectively, because the players have not formulated an effective communication strategy with other players in the Nigerian economy.
She enjoined Nigerian ship owners to do away with sentiment and rely less on government in taking control of trading on Nigerian waters, and advised operators in the shipping sector to drive their arguments with economic data to attract funds.
She called on shipping operators to make use of alternative sources such as issuance of bonds to finance ship acquisition and other capital projects in the sector.
Lamenting the low participation of indigenous operators, the former World Bank chief said: "Confronted with the low indigenous participation in the shipping trade, the Federal Government is, typically, planning to throw taxpayers' money down another black hole. A plan being hatched by apparatchiks for yet another special intervention fund to bail out local shipowners is misplaced and alarming in a country where such funds have been serially embezzled.
"Stimulating the maritime industry requires a more creative policy framework that will make shipping attractive to investors, ease access to cheap funding and encourage mergers", the former minister added.