Ms. Despina Theodosiou, President of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), says technological disruption has opened up opportunities for women in the shipping industry.
Theodosiou made this known at the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) Women in Maritime and Maritime Transport day-long conference in Lagos on Tuesday.
The conference on the theme: “The Future of Shipping: Weathering the Storms, Sailing High”, was organized in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5.
It aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
She added that the industry should keep its operations competitive.
She said women would bring other things to the table when working with men, such as their caution and analytical skills.
“There are many opportunities with this new technology that has emerged and it will lead to great leadership once imitated, but unfortunately women have to join in to use the space provided.
“The main challenges are lack of awareness, lack of female role models and unemployment,” she said.
She added, however, that shipping has an obligation to share equal opportunities for men and women in the event of technological disruption.
Ms. Jean-Chiazo Anishere (SAN), Administrator, African Women in Maritime (WIMAfrica), while presenting the conference brief, said that the future of shipping depends on women.
Anishere said women need to come forward with the knowledge and skills to make this happen.
“Analysts have postulated that for Nigeria’s gross domestic product, 90% is highly dependent on maritime trade, which accounts for over 85% of foreign trade.
“Singapore is known as a maritime hub in the world and this is due to the contribution of industry and therefore Africans having a healthy blue economy will help its import/export trade.
“And the interesting part is that the theme of the conference is focused on women to ensure that industry gaps are filled to have equality in the maritime space,” she said.
Ms. Eunice Ezeoke, President of WIMA Nigeria, speaking on harnessing technological disruption to improve port operations, urged the country to adopt the smart port.
According to Ezeoke, the smart port is where there is a reduced number of people, paper, one-stop shop where all information can be obtained in terms of customs clearance or cargoes.
“Maritime is an international business where different countries of the world interface in the port and so for us to be on par with other countries in terms of technological infrastructure, we must strive to develop our technology.
“By leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain will ensure less wasted time, reduce accidents and fatigue resulting from trying to locate cargo,” she said.
In his contribution, Dr. Emeka Akabogu, Senior Partner of Akabogu Law, speaking on the challenges of maritime trade, noted that the challenge faced by African countries relates to logistics and formalities.
According to Akabogu, to achieve a liberalized market in the region, it is necessary to improve, expand and promote intra-African trade which stood at 14%.
“It is unfortunate that Africans do not trade much with countries in their region and this is attributed to logistics and formalities.
“For shipping, many years ago a company was set up to help ship goods, but folded because the trade within the country wasn’t enough to support it, just this should be looked at to boost trade,” he said.
Akabogu urged women to get 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. (NOPE)