This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 2/22/2017


Unit:   USD thousands





2016 Estimates

Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate:   1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)
Data Sources: 
Total Local Production:   Industry Operators and trade publications*
Total Exports:   Industry operators and Trade Association (ISAN, NCS)
Total Imports:  Trade Association (ISAN, NCS) and NIMASA**
Imports from U.S.:  U.S. Census Bureau
*Trade Publications:  Maritime Digest
**NIMASA:  Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (
ISAN:  Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (Http://
NCS:  Nigerian Chamber of Shipping-(
U.S. Census Bureau – (
Nigeria is one of the largest countries in Africa with a coastline spanning about 1,000 km, with over 10,000 km of nationwide interlocked rivers, creeks, lagoons and lakes that extends to Cameroon and Benin Republic.  This attracts significant maritime activities including commercial port business that makes up 68% of total maritime trade in West Africa.  With an increasing annual import tonnage of over 150 million, including over 12 billion liters of refined petroleum products market demand, the Nigerian maritime industry offers tremendous investment opportunities in several areas including deep sea port and its ancillary services such as acquisition of dry cargo ships, tanker vessels, small vessels, shipyard and ship building facilities.  Following the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) concession and upgrades, cargo throughput at two of its Lagos main seaports in Lagos (Apapa and Tin can Island) and Port Harcourt (Rivers Port Complex) has increased by about 10 percent.  Annual container volume in Lagos has increased from 250,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) to about 630,000 TEUs per annum.  There are also seven new planned port projects, including two deep seaports, the earliest of which is expected to be operational by 2018. The depreciation of the Naira and impact of the decline in crude oil prices as well as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) currency controls which restricts access to U.S. dollars has affected volume of imports into the country. The Federal Government also indicates it will allocate an estimated $301.3 million to refurbish and create new inland waterways infrastructure across the country through the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

With a view to increase productivity, the Government of Nigerian (GON) also intends to concession/privatize the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Plc‘s marine services to private operators. It is expected that this will offer opportunities for imports of marine equipment and services.  It is to be noted that marine services are part of NPA regulatory function/roles; however, subsequent to concession of the ports, NPA assumed the role of landlord and as such divested itself of its port operations functions. These marine services/operations include: 

  • Towage.
  • Berthing/unberthing.
  • Stevedoring;
  • Cargo handling on quay.
  • Storage.
  • Repair of ships.
  • Surveillance of cargo.
  • Tallying of goods.
  • Weighing; and Dredging services.

The country’s marine transport logistics and services (boat/marine construction, services, haulage, commercial fishing, maintenance and accessories) industries are among America’s largest category of exports to Nigeria.  This is gradually dwindling due to aggressive encroachment by competitors as well as issues with sea piracy adversely impacting the trawling segment of the marine industry.

As an emerging market with a vast coastal area that includes the prolific hydrocarbon rich Niger Delta region with only about 3 percent involvement of indigenous maritime firms, Nigeria’s shipping industry offers tremendous opportunity for local and international companies. New and refurbished workboats generally have a viable market that is considered a growing market in Nigeria due to activities in the oil and gas sector.  Marine vessels are major service providers for the industry, and currently constitute and control 95 percent of Nigeria's coastal and inland shipping.  Trawlers and break-bulk carriers make up the remaining 5 percent.  These offer an excellent source of export revenue for U.S. vessel suppliers, ship yards, vessels builders, accessories and services suppliers from throughout the United States. 

Shipping and freight services are vital to companies in manufacturing, construction, oil and gas services, etc.  It is estimated that about 300 vessels operate in Nigeria and 80 percent of imports of crew boats, tug boats and accommodation barges/vessels are imported from the U.S.  Increasingly, there is demand for marine vessels with global positioning devices and specialized security and navigational features.  U.S. market share of imports of marine vessels, especially workboats, is dwindling due to aggressive inputs from competitors especially Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia with a smattering import from Dubai and South Africa. Industry contacts are of the opinion that currency differentials between U.S. Dollar and Euro, shipping distance, cost of vessels and differences in electrical systems (Nigeria uses 220-240 volts while America 110volts) continue to affect exports of U.S. vessels to Nigeria.

There are no barriers to foreign participation in Nigeria’s maritime industry.  Under the Cabotage Law foreign companies are expected to partner with local companies in order to operate within Nigeria’s maritime waters. With the passage of the Cabotage Law, foreign companies interested in operating in Nigeria’s maritime industry should note the government’s emphasis on and commitment to enforcing the law in Nigeria’s maritime industry and local content and indigenous participation policy in the oil and gas industry Foreign companies are also expected to register with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR Http://, the regulatory agency for all activities in the oil and gas industry and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA-, the maritime regulator for activities in Nigerian territorial waters.

Best Prospects/Services                                                                                

There are several investment options in the maritime sector ranging from seven new ports in the proposed or construction stages, as well as opportunities in the National Inland Waterways ( many of which are yet to be exploited such as: 

  • Dredging of the River Niger and $700 million second Niger Bridge; 
  • Rehabilitation of Warri and Lokoja Dockyards;
  • Operational vessels and pollution control.
  • Study and Development of River Niger and Benue Systems for all year round navigation.
  • Dredging of Oguta Lake for effective navigation with larger vessels.

NIMASA highlighted areas of present and future investment in the Nigeria maritime industry to include liner services, shipping services and international shipping, tramp services, coastal water transportation service, ports and ports operation, terminal and jetty development, towage and pilotage services.  Other areas are imports of marine and port equipment, accessories, spares and service centers across the coastal areas, as well as maritime agency, cargo handling stevedoring, storage and warehousing, inland container depots, haulage, logistics services in the oil and gas, supply boats, anchor handling tug ships, crew boats tug boat, cable and pipeline laying vessels, ship building and repair, ship financing and marine insurance.

Maritime Tourism:  boat cruises, yachting, passenger boat, ferry services, water sports (fishing, jet skis etc.)

Training:  shore and shipboard personnel, maritime training institution, pilot training, safety/security, ship building/repair, and environmental supervision.

Infrastructure/ Facilities:   

  • Provision of port infrastructure, superstructure and terminal facilities for container operation.
  • Provision of greenfield port development, marinas, port technology, navigational and security equipment.
  • Marine information technology infrastructure and services.
  • Ship repair (dry dock) yard to cater especially for rigs and tankers.
  • Development of inland container depots (ICD) and dry port facilities.
  • Warehousing services (including bonded warehouse).
  • Provision of free trade and export processing zones (FTZ and EPZ).

Services:   Trade support services, marine services (towage, pilotage, hydrographic, ship/cargo surveying, navigational aids, nautical services, admiralty service, dredging services), integrated logistics services (supply chain management service, air and marine logistics support), shipping management/brokerage/agency services, shipping services (acquisition and operation of vessels), port operations and logistics (ship and cargo), and bio metrics.


The oil and gas industry in Nigeria continues to require workboats of various sizes and configuration for its operations, including boats for seismic operations, fishing and related services, specialized anchor handling tugs and supply vessels and, surveillance/security patrol boats and off shore service vessels.

The demand for LNG vessel carriers is expected to continue to rise given planned and ongoing projects in Nigeria especially as the Nigerian LNG Limited’s Gas Transport Company at Bonny, which already owns 24 LNG ships is looking to purchase additional six vessels valued at about $1 billion to handle shipments of LNG products and plans to embark on its seventh train of 7m ton per annum capacity at an estimated investment of about $12 billion.

Trade Events

Nigerian Maritime Expo (NIMAREX - , March 10-12, 2016).

Offshore Patrol Vessels Africa Summit (, August 2016).

Web Resources

  • NIMASA:  Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (
  • NISA:  Nigerian Ship Owners Association of Nigeria ( ,formerly ISAN – Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria
  • SOAN:  Ship owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN - (
  • NCS:  Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (Http://
  • Sports Fisherman Association of Nigeria (SFAN-
  • Shipping Association of Nigeria (

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More Information

Nigeria Marine Technology Trade Development and Promotion