The Nigerian maritime industry is reaping bountifully from the application of ICT in coastal surveillance following the outsourcing of the specific function to a private firm. Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can report that the 2011 maritime security report indicates that incidents of piracy dropped about 80 per cent following concession. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, director-general and CEO of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) said at a one-day stakeholders forum in Lagos that the economic benefits of the outsourcing programmes would soon blossom. He allayed fears expressed in some quarters of the outsourcing such sensitive economic sector to a private concern. He notes that the decision to outsource the maritime security surveillance was taken in the national interest and meets all relevant regulatory approvals. The idea he stated is a strategic concession that provides a platform for tracking ships and cargoes, enforce regulatory compliance and surveillance of the entire Nigerian maritime domain using hi-tech electronic devices. Industry watchers had expressed worries the new arrangement could further compromise the safety of the country’s maritime province. Some expressed the view that the Navy is better placed for such task. But the NIMASA CEO said outsourcing was one of the most effective platforms of achieving desired results which has been successfully tested in other industry sector. Akpobolokemi said the concession agreement will last for an initial 10 years period and gave the cheering news that the partnership had started yielding positive results, owing to reductions in the activities of pirates by over 80 per cent in the last one year. “The agency sought and secured the Ministry of Transport’s approval and support to exploit the opportunities offered by public-private partnership (PPP) in order to acquire the needed operational platforms.” the DG said. The Director-General explained that in the quest to protect Nigeria’s economic interest, its concession initiative was subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of both the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) whose statutory mandates were satisfied, as touching the elements of security implications involved. “In the process, the concessionaire is to supply the platforms with surveillance systems, operations crew and maintain them throughout the duration of the concession period,” highlighted the DG, emphasizing that the NIMASA has not relinquished its statutory functions to the concessionaire. “To perform her regulatory functions reasonably, NIMASA needs a mix of operational assets, especially platforms which need huge capital investment, as the level of funding needed to acquire, operate and maintain the requisite platform is enormous and far beyond the resources of the agency,” he stated. He also emphasized that the lack of such platforms has so far constrained the agency from performing the important functions of enforcing maritime safety, and regulations, resulting in the fast deterioration of the nation’s waters, to the point of being ranked, second to Somalia in terms of piracy attacks. Meanwhile, the NIMASA boss assured the gathering that the MoU signed between the Agency and the Nigeria Navy will be reviewed to intensify the safety of the Nigerian water ways. Chidi Ilogu, a maritime lawyer and chairman of the occasion said while NIMASA is strategic in the economic buoyancy of Nigeria, it also needs to placate concerns expressed by individuals and corporate concerns that it needs to do more. Ilogu noted that the concession programme is a welcome idea if it would solve the issue of public workers complacency for optimum results.