The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria has urged women in the maritime Industry to explore investment opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which came into full effect in January 2021.
The President of WISTA Nigeria, Eunice Ezeoke stated this at a press briefing in Lagos to announce the association’s 2021 Business Luncheon and Magazine Launch, with the theme, “AfCFTA: Investment Opportunities for Women in Trade,” which is slated for July 8, 2021 at Oriental Hotel in Lagos.
She said the business luncheon is an annual event which serves as a platform for professional capacity development for women in the maritime sector.
Speaking on the AfCFTA, she said WISTA is happy that Nigeria has keyed-in and embraced the AfCFTA, adding that the Federal Government is presently sensitising the various stakeholders in public and private sectors on how to take advantage of the new agreement.
“The Federal Government has been advocating women inclusion in international trade by way of encouraging exportation of agro based products and other agricultural products, women are being encouraged to take advantage and participate in the huge trade volume in the African Continent and abroad.”
The WISTA Nigeria President also hinted that there are banks that are open to giving loans to women in business, such as NEXIM, Bank of Industry (BOI) and others.”
“We want to encourage as many women as possible to participate in this trade opportunity. Africa is huge with a big market, the economy is growing and the raw materials are there.”
She said part of the training in the 2021 business luncheon edition was to encourage women to either come as a group and form partnership to leverage on the opportunities provided by Federal Government for the women in AfCFTA.
Commenting on the activities of the body especially during the ongoing pandemic that has ravaged the globe, she pointed out that WISTA Nigeria has taken various strides in improving the lives of people around coastal communities, which include, provision of palliatives to stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic, fishing boats for women and among others.
Ezeoke further disclosed that WISTA has been helping female cadets who graduated from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron to get sea time despite the challenges of securing seatime.
“Though Nigeria does not currently have a national carrier, there are Nigerians that own vessels and WISTA has always been pushing to get sea time on those vessels owned by Nigerians for the young women graduating from MAN Oron. We have succeeded in getting sea time for about three of them.
“The association partners Non-governmental organisations in the sensitization of secondary school students and expose them to the maritime industry with a view to some of them pursuing careers in the maritime industry,” she added.
Also commenting on seatime, the Chairperson Organising Committee of the Business Luncheon, Irene Mcfoy said that NIMASA has been doing quite a lot in terms of ensuring Nigerian Seafarers get the requisite seatime and that women are also not excluded when the opportunity arises.
In her remarks, the secretary of WISTA Nigeria, Chizoba Anyika disclosed that the association has entered into partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on how to end the scourge of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to her, in 2020 January, WISTA entered an MoU with IMO, the MoU is for WISTA International to partner with the IMO for technical assistance, adding that the association is confident in the Deep Blue Assets that were launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos on 10th of June, as it would go a long way in combating criminality on Nigerian waterways.