Nigeria plans automated ship registry

NIMASA director general Dakuku Peterside, pictured with IMO secretary general Kitack Lim in 2017. Credit: IMO

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) plans to automate its systems as part of an ambitious plan to create a “world-class” ship registry and improve the ease of doing business in the country’s maritime sector.

The agency has acquired a software licence that would make its registration more attractive, said Dr. Dakuku Peterside, director-general of NIMASA, in a workshop with shipowners. “Automation is the only way to boost the worth of the registry and improve business processes. Our principal aim is to achieve online electronic registration, accept electronic copies of documents, and issue electronic certificates.”

Besides instituting an electronic system, NIMASA has commenced an audit of its existing register, which includes redesigning and producing new ship registry certificates. It has also upgraded the ship registry filing facility, reviewed its ship registration guidelines, and ISO 9001: 2015 certification.

In 2018 and 2019, the registry attracted two high index capacity vessels – Egina FPSO and MT Ultimate, and Peterside said he was confident that a lot more could be done to assist Nigerians in acquiring vessels.

He pointed out that some of the biggest ship registries in the world maintained a second or international register to attract tonnage, while using the closed register to develop indigenous capacity. The agency is, therefore, considering a second register to help grow the Nigerian fleet and enhance the country’s role in international commercial trade.

The Nigerian ship registry is rated as the second largest in Africa by tonnage, after Liberia, and 46th in the world by the International Maritime Organization, according to Peterside. However, Mina Oforiokuma, a governing council member of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, said that technically, the country’s registry was actually the largest in Africa.