ICS INTERVIEW: "We are preparing for the big launch of the Nigeria Chapter of the West Africa branch in January 2017 at Multimodal West Africa"

1)     Can we start with a bit of history of you and the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers?
I am a Chartered Shipbroker, a Master Mariner that was in command of ocean-going vessels on international voyages, a thorough-bred marine professional/consultant in world-wide marine transportation & safety, an SMS auditor, an accredited OCIMF OVID and Ship Inspector & Shell-exposed staff in Oil & Gas business.

While I was still studying in the UK, I got to know that the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (The Institute) is the professional body for commercial shipping worldwide and the only internationally recognized body conducting examination and qualifications for commercial shipping. My enquiries led me to enroll with the Institute, wrote and passed my exams over a period of time while serving at sea and got elected as a Member and later a Fellow, which qualifies me to be a Chartered Shipbroker. The Institute was established in 1911, incorporated in 1913 and received Royal Charter in 1920 has widened its scope of Membership to include the Commonwealth and non-British and lastly South Africa. There now exist 25 branches globally, with its Head Office in London. Our branch is the West Africa Branch.

The Institute membership is mainly through examinations and exposure in shipping. There are 14 International Teaching Centers and over 100 examination centers worldwide with about 4,000 candidates sitting the exams annually.

The Institute represents all aspects of the shipping business and includes in its membership not only shipbrokers but ship-owners, charterers, agents, forwarders and other shipping professionals. It is dedicated to the setting and maintenance of the highest standards in international transport and shipping business.

2)    You represent the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, what activities are you most excited about at the moment?
Capacity building in the commercial shipping arena to contribute to economic growth in Nigeria and West Africa sub-region is our main target and we are very excited about it.

As a new organisation in Nigeria our focus at the moment is on paying courtesy visits to Government establishments, Organisations, Institutions and  professional bodies who are stakeholders in Commercial Shipping; The idea being to introduce the Nigeria Chapter and create awareness of what the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers is all about…you can call it promoting the Institute….For the necessary capacity-building impact to be made by the Institute in Nigeria, people, organisations, government parastatals, etc , involved in commercial shipping need to have a knowledge of its existence and the scope of training, et al, it offers to ensure professionalism and ethical standards in shipping. To this end my team members are very passionate to introduce the Institute to the stakeholders in maritime and intermodal shipping.

3)    How excited are you about the Nigerian Government’s plans to increase port and terminal activity?
I am very excited. It is very timely as it would help meet the growing demand and the need for capacity expansion in our ports.

The Federal Government’s decision to revamp inland dry ports in 6 geo-political zones is part of the government’s plan to increase port and terminal activities. For example, inland container depots (ICDs) and container freight stations (CFS) have been commenced.

We cannot afford the type of congested sea ports experienced in the 70s, particularly now that we are thinking of revamping the economy; as part of the process of the economy revamp Concessionaires were brought in, we have concessioned the ports to them and they have brought in a level of efficiency into our port management with useful infrastructures installed. The overstretched infrastructural challenges being faced by the concessionaires have to be taken care of.

The created zonal dry ports which I term “economic corridors” would create opportunities in the areas of reducing or de-congesting the seaports, movement of goods and services closer to importers of finished goods/certain raw materials and revamping of the local economies in the economic corridors and nearby states. Exports of agricultural products can also be made easy from these zones. Downstream industries can also be created where these dry ports are located.

Bringing port services closer to the hinterland customers would further improve transportation infrastructure, facilitate increased trade and economic activities in the surrounding states and increase the port and terminal throughput activities with the available infrastructures.
   
For the success of this project however, 2 critical success factors are:-
(i)    the various zonal economic corridors should be interconnected by functional rail, road and water transport systems and
(ii)    Acquisition of appropriate shipping knowledge provided by essential and relevant commercial shipping training which the Institute offers, such as Logistics and Multimodal Transport, Port and Terminal Management, etc

Increased port and terminal activities, if properly harnessed, will improve the nation’s maritime contributions to GDP. For example the Lagos Free trade zone has the potential for expansion and the capacity to support a growing economy. There would be improved employments which would need to be backed by continuous training, particularly by the renowned internationally recognised body, the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers.

4)    Can you tell us a little more about your activities in the region?
At the branch level we carry out the following activities with positive results. We engage in students and membership drive and we undergo courtesy visits to institutions, organisations and government parastatals to introduce Institute programmes and its role in contributing to profitable commercial shipping.

We are introducing “Understanding Shipping” as the rudiments of shipping to all new comers into the shipping industry.

-    The next level is collaboration with relevant bodies such as Universities and Maritime colleges is to absorb Institute courses into their curriculum; As at now, through collaboration between the Institute and the Regional Maritime University as well as University of Cape Coast, MoUs have been signed and each of the Institutions have added 3 of the Institute subjects to their normal academic curriculum in their Transport Department.
-    Our collaboration has been extended to Ghana Ports & Harbour Authority, the Nigeria Shippers Council, The Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners and the Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria. Others would follow.

Lastly we are preparing for the big launch of the Nigeria Chapter of the West Africa Branch in January 2017 at Multimodal West Africa.

5)    What in your view are the challenges to developing effective supply chain solutions in Nigeria?
In my view the key challenges range from organizational issues, customers’ selection and culminating in costs and financial risks as listed below:-
•    Lack of integrated and empowered Supply Chain organizations by most companies
•    Lower customer loyalty resulting from volatile market with high price sensitivity.
•    Managing supplier financial risk, particularly in times of recession and with tight exchange control by government.
•    High Supply Chains Costs because of less outsourcing and slow improvement in globalization of the supply chain and
•    Poor supply chains to serve the customers in the region according to their requirements, and non-bundling supply chain partners, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers as much as is economically possible.

6)    In your opinion, what are the positive developments that have taken place over the past years?
What I consider positive developments that have taken place over the years are:-
•    The Port reform programme that was flagged off in 2006: This gave birth to Concession of ports which has brought with it improved  infrastructures, quick turnaround of ships, better cargo-handling plants and equipment , better efficiency in port management, removal of dockworkers’ bottlenecks and improved ports security in Nigeria.
•    Development of International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) scheme to block revenue leakages from under-declaration of vessels’ GRTs and increase government’s import revenue.
•    The appointment of Nigeria Shippers Council as the Port Economic Regulator by  the Federal Government in February 2014, with the regulator acting as the referee  in port activities to provide a level playing field among the various actors, has brought some sanity into shipping environment.
•    Setting up of Nigerian fleet implementation committee by the Federal Government to look into procurement of ships for resuscitation of national carrier status; this would ensure participation in the carriage of goods to and from the country.
•    Lately, commencement of rehabilitation of the roads within the ports community in the Lagos area and beyond is another welcome development as this would ease the perennial traffic congestions around the wharves.

7)    What is your vision in this industry?
My vision for the shipping industry is for it to be one of the major contributors to the country’s GDP and continual improved economy at large by having ethically and professionally sound people managing the commercial shipping business while everybody involved in shipping have knowledge of the business through training with the Institute at different levels.

8)    What are you most looking forward to at Multimodal West Africa 2017?
I am looking forward to the great launch of the new Nigeria Chapter of West Africa Branch of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, London.

Alongside the above I also look forward to promoting the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers within the region by meeting with and launching into networking with the major transport and logistics industry stakeholders that would be present at the Multimodal West Africa 2017, so as to make the best of the opportunity the MMWA is bringing to the exhibition, to introduce or create awareness of the role of the Institute as trainers of ethically sound commercial shipping professionals and organisers of adaptable training courses to suit organisations’ needs in the logistics and transport environment.

9)    Do you wish to add anything more?
It is advisable for all stakeholders/participants to make the best of the 3 days’ huge opportunities of MMWA 2017 to improve transport and  logistics business to contribute to boosting the sub-region’s economy. For example I would like to see synergy in the activities of the port and terminal operators, shipping lines, freight forwarders and other stakeholders

Capacity building through institute training would serve as a springboard to improved commercial shipping business; I therefore would like to see all organisations represented at the MMWA 2017 partner with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in the training of their staff at all levels.

More about Captain Samuel Olarewaju
I started life as a banker but due to the interest I developed in shipping, I got scholarship from the Federal Government to study Nautical Sciences in the UK. I trained and became a seasoned Master Mariner and a Member of the Nautical Institute (MNI), who sailed on general cargo and container vessels, on international voyages for the best part of 20 years out of which I was in Command for about 6 years. Prior taking command, I had a stint at the National Shipping Line office as Assistant Marine Superintendent. I left the sea to join Shell Nigeria where I served for over 20 years during which period I was the Head of Marine Logistics and Bonny Crude Oil Terminal Superintendent where I was responsible for crude oil receipt, processing, storage and loading on Crude Oil tankers of diverse sizes, but mainly VLCCs.

On retirement from Shell I became the CEO/MD of SAMAROLAR NIGERIA LIMITED, a marine company with focus on Chartering, Sale & Purchase of Offshore Support Vessels (OSVs), Marine Consultancy and lately veering into Ships Port Agency services.

I was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers on 11th October 1989, which qualifies me as a Chartered Shipbroker. I am currently the Vice Chairman of West Africa Branch (and the Chairman of the Nigeria Chapter). I am also a member of Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, London; Currently I am undergoing Maritime Law Programme with the London Metropolitan University/Lloyds Maritime Academy.