Mrs. Jean-Chiazor Anishere (SAN) is the Principal Counsel of Jean-Chiazor and Partners. She is a former Continental President of African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA) and also a former President of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria.
In this exclusive chat with The News Diet, Anishere speaks on the effects of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act; opportunities for women with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA); and other pertinent maritime sector issues.
Should the SPOMO Act be a model for African nations in the war against piracy?
Yes, because Nigeria has become the judicial benchmark for the entire Gulf of Guinea in Admiralty matters as other member countries such as: Benin Republic, Liberia, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are now using the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, as their model.
These member countries are understudying the nation’s SPOMO Act following the successes recorded by Nigeria in criminalising piracy and other sea crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
What’s your take on gender balance and the opportunities for women in maritime with AFCFTA?
Nigerian women in the maritime industry have been charged to explore investment opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) which came into full effect in January 2021.
WISTA made the charge in Lagos while heralding the association’s 2021 Business Luncheon and Magazine Launch in Lagos with the theme: “AFCFTA: Investment Opportunities for Women in Trade’.
Nigeria has keyed-in and embraced the AFCFTA, whilst presently sensitising the various stakeholders in the public and private sectors on how to take advantage of the new agreement. The Federal Government has also been advocating for the inclusion of women in international trade by way of encouraging the exportation of agro-based products and other agricultural products through single digits loan.
Part of the training in the 2021 Wista-Nigeria business luncheon edition was to encourage women to come as a group in order to form partnership to leverage on the opportunities provided by the Federal Government for women in AFCFTA.
Also, there was the Women in the Blue Economy Workshop that took place from 16th-17th June, 2022 in Abuja, Nigeria. Participants at the workshop exchanged views on the African Union Blue Economy Strategy and ensuring women’s empowerment in the fisheries development sector. The workshop also reflected on possible ways of financing women’s participation in the blue economy, whilst addressing the meaningful participation of women on the blue economy as a catalyst instrument in the blue economy industry. Some gaps were pointed out that needs to be addressed in some sectors.
For example, in the fisheries sector, women play an important role in post-harvest aspects of the seafood value chain, including processing, marketing, and selling seafood. Very often, this contribution goes unseen as it is done on a subsistence scale, in the informal economy, or it is undervalued. We do not have the full picture of women’s contribution, and women remain excluded from the higher levels of decision making around fisheries.
However, the complex nature of fishing agreements, processing, and trade exacerbates this situation. It is crucial to understand women’s contribution to the blue economy, and setting up the mechanisms, networks, and resources to enhance this contribution while ensuring they receive a fair return on their investment. It is also important to empower women to reach leadership positions in the blue economy. Only then will Africa prosper.
How much has the lead agency in maritime, NIMASA done and what are the areas for improvement with regards enhancing the nation’s maritime sector?
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), is responsible for regulations related to Nigerian shipping, maritime labour and coastal waters amongst others. The agency also undertakes inspections and provides search and rescue services.
In recent times NIMASA has carried out series of transformation in the country’s maritime administration that had been major economic drivers to include; the Final Billing System for Freight Charges, Improved Maritime Safety, Security, and Domain Awareness, and the Tripartite Agreement by Maritime Stakeholders.
Other critical changes in the sector are the renewed capacity building drive through implementation of a five-year cabotage cessation plan, and the rejigging of the Nigerian Ship Registry.
The implementation of the Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution (INSWPS) with command and control of infrastructure is part of Nigerian Government’s deep blue contract to enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea. Most importantly, the Deep Blue Project of NIMASA is a totally wide spectrum maritime security strategy which is built on four pillars: situation awareness, response capability, law enforcement and regional cooperation.
With the use of satellite surveillance technologies, in combination with intelligence systems, Nigeria is able to identify with a consistent 365 days and a five-year profile, all vessels that visit our Exclusive Economic Zone. We are able to identify vessels that are believed to be engaging in suspicious activities and take appropriate actions.
NIMASA is still working hard to achieve its goals in the Nigerian maritime space.