By Chiazo Ogbolu
Lagos, July 19, 2022 Mrs Despina Theodosiou, President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), says technology disruption has opened opportunities for women in the maritime industry.
Theodosiou made this known at the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) one-day women in shipping and maritime conference on Tuesday in Lagos.
The conference with the theme: “The Future of Shipping: Weathering the Storms, Sailing High,” was organised in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5.
It seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
She added that the industry should its operations remain competitive.
She said that women would bring other things to the table while working with men, such as their carefulness and analytical skills.
“There are many opportunities with this new technology that emerged and this will lead to great leadership when emulated but unfortunately, women need to come onboard to be able to utilise the space provided.
“Key challenges that should be addressed are lack of awareness, lack of female role models and unemployment,” she said.
She, however, added that shipping had an obligation to share equal opportunities for both men and women with technology disruption.
Mrs Jean Chiazo-Anishere (SAN), Trustee, African Women in Maritime (WIMAfrica), while presenting the brief of the conference said that the future of shipping depend on women.
Anishere said that women must make themselves visible with requisite knowledge and skills for it to happen.
“Analysts have postulated that for Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, 90 per cent is highly dependent on sea trade which accounts to over 85 per cent of external trade.
“Singapore is known as a maritime hub in the world and this is due to the contribution of the industry and so Africans having a healthy blue economy will help its trade.
“And the interesting part is that the theme of the conference is focused on women to ensure that gaps in the industry are bridged to have equality in the maritime space,” she said.
According to Ezeoke, smart port is where there are reduced numbers of people, paper, single window where all information can be gotten in terms of clearance or cargoes.
“Maritime is an international business where different countries of the world interface in the port and so for us to be at par with other countries in terms of technology infrastructure, we should strive to develop our technology.
“Leveraging technology like artificial intelligence, blockchain will ensure time wastage is reduced, reduce accident, fatigue as a result of trying to locate where a cargo is,” she said.
In his contribution, Dr Emeka Akabogu, the Principal Partner, Akabogu Law, speaking on shipping trade challenges, noted that the challenge African countries faced had to do with logistics and formalities.
According to Akabogu, to achieve a liberalised market across the region, there is a need to improve, expand and promote intra-African trade which just stood at 14 per cent.
“It is unfortunate that Africans don’t trade much with countries within their region and this is attributed to logistics and formalities.
“For shipping, many years ago, a company was established to help ship cargo but folded up because trade within the country was not enough to sustain it, all these should be looked into to boost trade,” he said.
Akabogu urged women to be organically involved in the maritime industry to be visible.
“Women should be seen for what they can offer and not because they are women,” he said.