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The study investigates the impact of ocean shipping trade on the economic development of Nigeria, covering the period from 1976 to 2015. Ocean shipping trade, in thousand tons served as an independent variable in all three set of assumptions, the gross domestic product, the value of Nigeria's external reserves and payment of external debt were used as proxies for the level of economic development respectively. a simple regression analysis was applied using time series data. The findings of the study are that a significant and positive relationship between the shipment leaves the ocean exports and gross domestic product, foreign reserves and payment of external debt. Also the export shipping trade, is an important factor for economic development of Nigeria under each of the dependent variables. Based on these findings and conclusions, the study, among others, recommended that the overall institutional framework in the economy should be improved to take full benefits of trade expedition to the ocean in Nigeria. In addition, it is necessary to improve the lack of transparency and thus reduce the corruption that seems to be endemic in our country, and therefore to improve the earnings of export shipping trade.





Shipping has for a long time been recognized as one of the strong catalysts for socio-economic development. Back in 1776, Adams Smith noted that “A business working in a country town without links to the outside world can never achieve high levels of efficiency because its small market will limit the degree of specialization”. Because shipping is one of the cheapest and efficient modes of transportation over long distances, it has since the ancient times been at the forefront of opening up of the world, and thus a major driver of the process of globalization.

Shipping, especially container shipping, has been both a cause and effect of globalization. Container shipping could lay claim to being the world’s first truly global industry. In fact, container shipping could claim to be the industry which, more than any other, makes it possible for a truly global economy to work. It connects countries, markets, businesses and people, allowing them to buy and sell goods on a scale not previously possible. It is now impossible to imagine world trade, and ultimately our lives as consumers, without container shipping. Shipping has led to a phenomenal growth in world merchandise trade, which has consistently grown faster than output. In 2006, goods loaded at ports worldwide are estimated at 7.42 billion tonnes, up from 5.98 billion tonnes in 2000. The value of total world exports increased from US$6,454 billion in 2002 to US$40,393 billion in 2005, representing an increase of 64 per cent. (See Fig 4).

According to Kummi (2007), shipping has emerged as one of the most powerful socio-economic and political forces shaping the world today. The phenomenon of shipping is moving the world towards increasing and irreversible integration of economic, social, cultural and political systems. Globalization through shipping trade has “decoupled time and space” resulting in the “death of distance”. Thanks to globalization, the once big world has been transformed into “one little village”.

Shipping has been one of the main causes and effects of globalization. The impact of globalization on shipping, especially container shipping, has been most phenomenal. Indeed, shipping connects countries, markets, businesses and people, allowing them to produce, buy and sell goods on a scale not previously possible. It therefore becomes necessary, if not imperative for countries to try to evaluate impact of shipping trade on their economies. Consequently, this study is an appraisal of the impact of shipping trade on economic growth in Nigeria.


The maritime industry is international in nature and is acknowledged to be a very dynamic component in the socio-economic configuration of any given maritime nation. Nigeria is no exception. Even land-locked countries such as Mali and Burkina - Faso in West Africa also hinge, their economic fortunes on the maritime sector relying as it were on the port of Abidjan for import and export transactions. One major problem that has continued to plague the industry in Nigeria is the issue of adequate policy formulation and implementation, hence the contribution of shipping trade to economic growth has therefore being a subject of debate.

In traditional maritime nations such as United Kingdom, the USA, the Scandinavians, other European Countries among others, the factors of time, proper planning, co-ordination and implementation of clear-cut policies through government intervention largely account for the enviable levels of efficiency, sophistication and monumental success in their maritime activities especially in respect of its contribution to economic growth. The reverse appears to be the case in Nigeria as the fortunes of the industry have continued to suffer progressive catastrophe over the years. A very near example is the fact that the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) which took delivery of 19 (nineteen) brand new tonnages from European shipyards in 1979 and 1980, has not only lost all her vessels but has been liquidated altogether. This is complicated by the inability of governments of different types to float an indigenous national carrier up till date.

Therefore, the basic questions that will agitate the mind of the researcher include the following:

A.  What has been the trend and pattern of shipping or maritime trade in Nigeria?

B.  What are the causes of the trends in the shipping trade?

C.  What has been the impact of shipping trade on economic growth in Nigeria using economic indicators of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), External Reserves and Debt Services payment as yardsticks?

This study therefore, investigates the impact of ocean shipping export trade on economic development in Nigeria.


The central objective of this study is to empirically determine the impact of ocean shipping export trade on Nigeria’s economic development. Specifically, the study intends to accomplish the following:

1)   To determine the relationship between ocean shipping export trade and Nigeria’s gross domestic product.

2)   To ascertain the influence of ocean shipping export trade on Nigeria’s external reserve.

3)   To determine whether ocean shipping export trade significantly influences the level of external debts payment.

4)   To isolate policy constraints towards the effective use of ocean shipping export trade to boost economy and proffer policy recommendations.


Having stated the above objectives, we therefore, consider the following research question relevant for the study?

1)   What is the nature of relationship between ocean shipping export trade and Nigeria’s economic development?

2)  To what extent has ocean shipping export trade influenced the level of Nigeria’s gross domestic product?

3)   What is the influence of ocean shipping export trade on Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserve?

4)    To what extent has ocean shipping export trade influenced Nigeria’s debt service payment?

5)   What are the policy constraints toward the effective use of ocean shipping export trade receive in Nigeria?


In order to carry out an adequate research work, and to analyze the relationship of the needed variables, we shall make the following hypotheses:

H0: 1 There is no significant relationship between ocean shipping export trade and the Gross Domestic Product.

H0: 2 There is no significant relationship between ocean shipping export trade and External Reserve.

H0: 3 There is no significant relationship between ocean shipping export trade and External Debts Payment.


There is no gain saying the fact that the issue of economic growth and development is one of the most sensitive issues in Nigeria of today. One reason for the sensitivity of this issue is the scenario of abject poverty in the Land of surplus as is the case in Nigeria. The reason for this boils down to the fact that every reasonable Nigerian is bothered about the economic imperialism brought about by the level of underdevelopment. The generation yet unborn is even saddled and sold to economic slavery because of the present level of poverty and penury.

A research work on such a sensitive matter as the relationship between economic development, external reserve, debt payment and ocean shipping export trade in Nigeria, is therefore at this time a necessity.

The need to provide a lasting solution to the problem of underdevelopment, abject poverty, tribal clashes, Niger Delta Youth restiveness, religious bigotry among others, provide workable economic growth scenario, management of our abundant natural resources among others as would be advocated in this research work is therefore a task that must be done and hence a justification for this research work. Hence, this study is significant.


This research work aims at covering an overview of the nature of the relationship between the ocean shipping export trade and economic development in Nigeria, giving special attention to the some indicators of economic growth in Nigeria - gross domestic product, external reserve and external debt payment. References would be made to other countries which are relevant to this research work. The study also covers a period of 39years, 1976-2015.


The research work has been intended to have an overview analysis of the Nigerian ocean shipping export trade in relation to it economic development and growth. It would assess the concept of ocean shipping export trade in relation to the current level of economic growth given special attention to relationships between ocean shipping export trade and some indicators of economic growth.

However, due to time constraints and lack of good data base and information sources in Nigeria and worst still because of lack of good data in the required government ministries and parastatals, the research work could not cover all the economic growth information of the country.



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