SIFAX Group Chairman Identifies Blue Economy Potential at LAUTECH Lecture

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group, has identified coastal tourism and renewable energy generation as some of the potential areas of growth that Nigeria needs to take advantage of in developing its blue economy.

 

Afolabi, while delivering the 16th Convocation Lecture of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso on the topic “Towards a sustainable blue economy and marine development in Nigeria: trends, challenges and prospects”, noted that the country has many untapped opportunities in the maritime sector.

 

He said developing the country’s blue economy is now more imperative than ever due to the government’s policy of moving away from the largely one-product economy that Nigeria has been running for decades.

 

He said: “Serious attention should be devoted to the development of our coastlines by the government as this could spur huge recreational and economic activities around such localities. Coastal tourism development has the potential to provide socio-economic benefits to Nigeria, especially during this period when the Nigerian government is trying to diversify the economy from being a predominantly crude oil-based economy to a multi-product economy, which can withstand the volatility in oil prices in the world market.

 

“One other lucrative sector within the blue economy concept is the opportunity for harvesting renewable energy. Renewable energies, such as wind, solar, hydro, and tidal energy, are energy alternatives to fossil fuels that can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the maritime sector.

“Offshore wind energy is also a real and promising form of renewable energy generated by offshore wind turbines, which makes it possible to take advantage of strong ocean winds for electricity generation later exported to land where it is consumed in several economic activities. In turn, solar energy can be used in power navigation and communication ships’ systems and equipment and those of other floating structures.”

 

Afolabi further noted that the country can learn from the experience of Phillipines which has deployed more seafarers in the global shipping business than any other country. He said the country needs to develop a robust maritime educational curriculum that takes into cognizance technology, trends, and the dynamic nature of the industry.

Afolabi, however, cautioned that tapping the potential in the blue economy should be done responsibly and sustainably. He identified some of the sustainable measures of using the country’s ocean resources. These include the promotion of sustainable aquaculture practices, modern environmental waste management, monitoring, control, and surveillance of Nigeria’s territorial waters, and improvement of maritime safety and security.

 

Others are the preservation of marine ecosystems, addressing the challenge of pollution in coastal areas, enactment of laws that promote the blue economy, and proper regulation by relevant government agencies.

 

 

The Ajoke Ayisat Afolabi Foundation (AAAF), the philanthropic arm of SIFAX Group, has set a target of awarding a scholarship to 2,000 indigent students across the country in 2024.

According to Foluke Ademokun, Executive Coordinator, AAAF, while speaking on the activities of the non-governmental organisation in the first quarter of this year, noted that the driving force behind this initiative was to support indigent parents as well as tackle the menace of out-of-school children.

She said: “We are focused on helping the government reduce the number of out-of-school children, so in our way, we have provided a platform where we source and pay for school fees of indigent students across Nigeria so they can access quality education, despite the financial circumstance of their parents or guardians and we have been doing this since the inception of the Foundation about 15 years ago. Thousands of underprivileged children have benefitted from the Foundation.

“In the first quarter of 2024, we have paid for over 237 students in Lagos and Zaria and we are optimistic that before the end of the year, we should reach more than 2,000 students. The Foundation also plans to equip the students with in-demand skills, promote life-long learning opportunities, and reduce inequalities in access to quality education.”

Ademokun further said the foundation also extended support to Umunna Comprehensive Secondary School, Umuosu in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State with the donation of 3-in-1 desks and seats to foster a good learning environment that would impact the student’s overall learning experience and success.

“When we visited the school and we saw that the environment was not conducive for learning especially the tables and desks used by the students. We knew that an intervention was necessary to make the school attractive for the students, this was why we initiated this donation of new desks and seats. We believe that the students will be motivated and better engaged with the new desks and seats”, she noted.

Other projects executed by the Foundation and SIFAX Group in the first quarter of the year, according to Ademokun, include the provision of daily meals for indigents in Zaria, donation of foodstuffs to over 1,000 Lagos residents, free medical outreaches in Lagos and Ogun states, digital training for market women in Lagos, distribution of energy-efficient stoves to women in Abia state, and start-up grants to women in Zaria, Kaduna state.

While commenting on the various projects, Basil Agboarumi, Executive Director, Corporate and Governmental Affairs, SIFAX Group noted that the Group was committed to investing in the underprivileged Nigerians through its various intervention projects aimed at improving their quality of life

 

SIFAX Logistics Company Limited, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group, has donated some modern office equipment to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).

The equipment include two units of an air conditioner, a refrigerator, an executive office table, and a chair.

While handing over the equipment in Lagos, Basil Agboarumi, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs and Governmental Relations, SIFAX Group, said the donation was in line with the company’s commitment to its robust stakeholder engagement across all the sectors it has operations, both locally and internationally.

Agboarumi said the company also believes in the vision of LASTMA which is to ensure Lagosians enjoy logjam-free traffic in the state.

Adewale Adetayo, the General Manager, SIFAX Logistics Company Limited, also noted that the gesture was to strengthen the company’s strategic partnership with LASTMA and also support the new agency’s newly-appointed General Manager.

He said: “We are in the business of transportation and LASTMA is one of our key stakeholders, especially in the area of traffic management. This gesture is to further strengthen our strategic relationship with the agency and to show our support to the new GM who we believe has what it takes to reposition the agency and fulfill the vision of LASTMA.”

Bakare-Oki Olalekan, General Manager, LASTMA, appreciated the company for the donation, adding that effective traffic management is foremost on his agenda and his men have been well motivated to achieve this mandate.

About 500 residents of Ijora community in Lagos have benefitted from free food items donated by SIFAX Group, a leading business conglomerate with business interests in maritime, aviation, oil & gas, financial services, and hospitality.

The donation is part of the activities to mark this year’s International Women’s Day celebration.

 

 

According to Mrs. Wunmi Eniola-Jegede, Executive Director, Business Development & Strategic Planning, the current economic reality as well as the need to identify with Christian and Muslim faithful in one of the company’s host communities made the donation imperative and timely.

She said: “SIFAX Group has a reputation of supporting worthy causes across the country, especially in areas where we have operations. In the spirit of the International Women’s Day and to support citizens who are currently fasting – Christians and Muslims – we decided to share these food items to indigent residents of Ijora. In a nutshell, it’s a way of giving back to the society and a community where we operate.”

 

She also used the opportunity to appreciate the community for the cooperation that has been extended to the company’s various businesses operating in the community.

While commending the company for the kind gesture, the Ojora of Ijoraland, Oba Fatai Oyeyinka Ojora lauded SIFAX Group for bringing smiles to his indigent subjects, adding that the community will continue to support the company’s operations. He later prayed for the continuous progress of the company.

 

SIFAX Group, one of the leading business conglomerates in Nigeria with investment in Maritime, Aviation, Oil & Gas, Haulage & Logistics, Financial Services, and Hospitality, has appointed Basil Agboarumi as its new Executive Director, Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Agboarumi recently completed his term as the Managing Director/CEO of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc. (SAHCO Plc.), one of the subsidiaries of SIFAX Group.

Agboarumi holds a National Diploma (OND) in Mass Communication from the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi and a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication from the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, a Master in Communications (MSc) from the Lagos State University and a Certificate in Creative Design & Digital Communications from the School of Media & Communications of the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos. He also holds a Management Certificate in Civil Aviation from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

After the privatization and subsequent takeover of SAHCOL by SIFAX Group in 2009, Agboarumi was appointed the Head of Corporate Communications to spearhead the re-branding of the new company. He was subsequently appointed the company’s Managing Director in 2018. Under his leadership, SAHCO Plc was listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange while many airlines, both local and foreign, signed business deals with the company due to its excellent and cutting-edge services which include passenger handling, ramp handling, and cargo handling.

Agboarumi has over 25 years of professional in public relations, reputation management, brand development, media relations, business development, and government relations.
Speaking on the new appointment, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group, said Agboarumi brings vast experience and records of achievements to his new role, adding that these qualities will help him succeed in the new role.
He said: “He demonstrated the capacity and ability to navigate different terrains as a leader during his time as the Managing Director of SAHCO. The COVID-19 pandemic hit shortly after he took over the reins at SAHCO, but he was able to steer the ship of the company to profitability despite the uncertainties that characterised the global aviation business at the time. I am convinced the Group will benefit tremendously from his wealth of experience as he assumes this new role.”

 

SIFAX Group, one of the major sponsors of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club (NFSC) to the recently-concluded African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Cote d’ Ivoire, has said the desire to see the country lift the continental trophy for the fourth time and forging unity across the country was the driving force behind its support for the supporters’ club.

According to Olumuyiwa Akande, Group Head, Corporate Communications, SIFAX Group has always been a great supporter of Nigerian football and has established a great relationship with NFSC over the years, resulting in sponsorship to some major football tournaments.

He said: “As an indigenous conglomerate, our passion and loyalty lie in Nigeria succeeding in all endeavours. Football is a unifying factor for us as Nigerians, and SIFAX Group takes the issue of national unity and development seriously. All fault lines across religion, ethnicity, and politics disappear anytime the national football teams play. SIFAX Group wants to further engender that spirit of unity and togetherness through football. Clinching the trophy for the fourth time was also a great attraction.

“The company found the platform of the supporters’ club as a veritable one to achieve these objectives. The impact of the supporters’ club on the success of our national teams cannot be overemphasized. Through thick and thin, the club is available at major tournaments and games to encourage the players and promote the interest of the nation. These patriotic and selfless Nigerians deserve to be supported.”

Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, President General, NFSC, said the club would have been stranded and unable to support the team during the tournament if corporate organisations like SIFAX Group didn’t support them.

“I am grateful to Dr. Taiwo Afolabi and the SIFAX Group for their timely and consistent support for our activities. The travel costs for our members are very huge considering the one-month duration of the tournament. We pay for transport, feeding, and accommodation for all our members. I am grateful for this sponsorship, alongside other companies and individuals,” he said.

 

SIFAX Group and its aviation partner, Changi Airports International from Singapore have opened discussions on strategic collaboration with the Federal Government and Lagos State government to develop the country’s aviation sector.

 

SIFAX Group, through one of its subsidiaries, SAHCO Plc, is already a major player in the aviation ground handling space. However, the consortium is looking to explore more business prospects in the sector such as aviation terminal management, airline management and development and other ancillary services.

 

In various meetings recently with the Vice President, Kasim Shettima, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, the Group reiterated its commitment to the development of Nigeria’s aviation sector, explaining that the company has the capacity to contribute substantially to the growth of the sector, which will positively impact the nation in terms of job creation, tourism development and economic growth.

 

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman of the Consortium noted that SIFAX Group has a track record of turning around enterprises for profitability in Nigeria and beyond. Citing the example of SAHCO Plc which was carved out of the defunct Nigeria Airways and was concessioned to the Group in 2009, Afolabi noted that SIFAX Group has invested heavily in growing it to become the number one cargo handling company in West Africa, as well as being listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange.

 

He said: “SAHCO is a very good example of the Group’s capacity and expertise in turning around enterprises for growth and profitability. Our port terminal, at Tin Can Island Port, Lagos is also another example we can reference to solidify our claims. It was in a bad shape when we won the concessioning in 2006 but years

 

down the line, we are proud of the innovations we have introduced that has transformed the terminal to the leading indigenous terminal in the Lagos port.

 

“We are also turning around the fortune of Warri Terminal B, in Warri Delta State which was abandoned for years. All of these experiences and expertise alongside our technical partnership with Changi Airports International can be put at the disposal of the Federal Government and Lagos State government in their quests to float their respective airlines and the development and management of airport terminals across the country.”

 

Roy Toh, Director, International Projects, Changi Airports International, said its partnership with SIFAX Group would enable the consortium to replicate what Changi Airports had done across the globe.

 

He said: “The Singapore Airport is a global reference of how aviation terminal management can be done successfully, we hope to replicate our success here in Nigeria. This is why we have partnered a company with credible track record, SIFAX Group and we are open to collaboration with the government”.

 

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu lauded SIFAX Group for its various investments in the state that have contributed greatly to its economic growth, assuring that the state is open to partner with the company.

 

Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group and the newly-appointed Chancellor of the Gerar University of Medical Sciences, Imope-Ijebu, Ogun State, has commended the university for the quality of infrastructure at the institution’s campus.

Afolabi, who was appointed the first Chancellor of the institution recently, expressed his delight that the university, which will welcome her pioneer students in the next few weeks, already has impressive infrastructure and equipment that would aid a smooth commencement of academic activities at the permanent site.

Afolabi made this known during his maiden visit to the university where he was received by the management team led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Niran Adetoro.

He said: “I have always believed that quality education remains the bedrock of development in any society. It not only liberates the mind but also positions individuals for personal advancement. This is the major reason education has been a key pillar in SIFAX Group’s social interventions over the years. This is why I accepted to be the Chancellor of this university. I want to contribute my quota towards the realization of the lofty vision of this citadel of learning.

“I have gone round the campus. This is impressive because not many universities start their journey on their permanent sites. The infrastructural provision, facilities and modern equipment on ground are more than good enough for a university just opening her doors. I wish to commend the founder and management of the university for the good job done so far.”

The Vice Chancellor informed Afolabi that the National Universities Commission (NUC) had approved all the nine take-off programmes of the university. The programmes are Nursing Science, Optometry, Medical Laboratory

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Science, Physiology, Physiotherapy, Radiology and Radiation Science, Anatomy, Human Nutrition and Dietetics and Pharmacology.

In a related development, in fulfillment of his promise, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi has donated a brand-new bus to the university. While presenting the bus, Olumuyiwa Akande, Group Head, Corporate Communications, SIFAX Group, who represented Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, said the bus was donated to aid the movement of staff, as academic activities will commencement in the next few weeks.

Prof. Niran Adetoro, who received the bus, lauded Afolabi for the kind gesture, promising that it would be put to good use.

Mr. Pius Ukeyima Akutah (MON), the newly-appointed Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council has expressed satisfaction over the impact Ports & Cargo Handling Services Limited, the flagship company and subsidiary of SIFAX Group has had on the nation’s maritime sector.
Speaking during his maiden courtesy visit on the management of the terminal, the Shippers Council boss noted that Ports & Cargo has maintained its status as the foremost indigenous terminal operator in the country and has made everybody proud with the way it has run its operations.
Akutah said: “We are very pleased with the operations of the terminal over the years. You have positioned yourself as a terminal to reckon with. Your investments in the maritime sector has continued to shape the growth of the blue economy and you have proven that you have the necessary expertise to run this terminal very well”.
“I want to solicit your support as always. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has given us a mandate and his eyes are firmly on the growth of the sector. We will roll out measures that will support your continued growth. The Council will firmly collaborate with all operators this year to maximize success and entrench more automation of the sector too.”
In his response, John Jenkins, Managing Director, PCHS, thanked the NSC boss and hinted that the terminal is open and willing to collaborate with the council to achieve the vision of the president. Other management team members of the terminal present during the visit include- Capt. Ibraheem Olugbade, Executive Director, Administration, Tobi Afolabi, Executive Director, Operations, Sogo Faola, AGM Transfer, PCHS and Patience Nwaogwugwu, Head, SIFAX Stevedoring.

 

Our Chairman, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, has been honoured with an honorary doctorate degree in Business Administration by Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo State as part of activities to mark the university’s 15th convocation ceremony. Our Chairman and his wife and top SIFAX Group management team were at the colourful ceremony.

L-R – Chief Dr. Olutoyin Okeowo, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Ajayi Crowther University (ACU), Oyo; Chief Dr. Tunde Afolabi, Chancellor, ACU; Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, CON, Chairman, SIFAX Group; Mrs. Folashade Afolabi and Professor Timothy Adebayo, Vice-Chancellor, ACU during the conferment of the honorary doctorate degree in Business Administration on Dr. Taiwo Afolabi by the university at its 15th convocation ceremony