Nigeria’s Chief Inspector of Diving, Mr Julius Ugwala, says the establishment of a common communication network by the West African states will improve the security of the region’s territorial waters.
Ugwala, in a statement in Lagos over the weekend, said that the communication network would be essential as part of efforts to solve the problem of maritime insecurity within the Gulf of Guinea.
He said that the unified central intelligence system would leverage technology to tackle maritime crimes plaguing the West African states.
“To curb unrest in our territorial waters or reduce it to the barest minimum, all maritime agencies in the coastal states need to come out with a proper escort corridor, naval patrol at sea, coast guards and modern communication systems.
”They should also come out with an office that will coordinate a common communication system to monitor movements on the West African waters.
“This will improve relationship with key partners in the West African region, make for safety along the West African waterways, improve local skills and create employment,” he said.
Speaking on the impact of technology post-COVID-19, Ugwala said that the Information and Communication Technology value chain had brought opportunities that would outlive the present time to the maritime industry.
“We do not want to go backward because we are faced with COVID-19. Rather, we want to see how we can take advantage, using technology to build our businesses where we can do business without even seeing each other.
“Electronic documentation is another effective way of doing business. We do not have to wait for someone to come from China before documents are signed.
”Modern ways of inserting signature digitally are available and our vessels can move from one place to another.
“We know that these modern ways of doing business will help us cope with the challenges we are facing today in the shipping sector,” he said.
Ugwala bemoaned the lack of confidence in African manpower, adding that Africans felt inferior to expatriates neglecting Africans to employ foreigners into roles that Africans were capable of occupying.
“This means that we do not have confidence in our own indigenous people. We need to start encouraging our people in the labour market.
”We need to embrace technology. We need to go into cost studies. We need to keep on learning, training and retraining, if we want to sustain the market,” he said.