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Smart shipping – a catalyst to emerging blue economy

Smart shipping – a catalyst to emerging blue economy

A nationwide campaign of Bahria University to promote country’s blue economy

Recognition of the blue economy and smart shipping concept in developing economies has meant that countries are now strengthening on how to increase port capacity and efficiency ahead of their competitors. As we all are aware that blue economy create blue job opportunities in different areas like shipping, insurance, seafaring, port operations, financial services, vessel registration, ship building & ship breaking, ship repair and shore based auxiliary support etc. Therefore the stakeholders are now investing in infrastructure development and implementation of friendly maritime policies along with latest technology and digitalization of ships and ports through ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tools to enable full automation of port operations to achieve blue economy sustainability through smart shipping services, which is only possible through smart ports features as depicted in the model below:

Maritime transport and ports are the backbone of today’s world globalized economy as the cheapest mode for bulk transportation with over 90% by volume and 70% by value of global trade. According to World Bank statistics 2017 volume of seaborne trade will double by 2030 and quadruple by 2050. The report also discloses that shipping provides the principal mode of transport for the supply of raw materials, consumer goods, essential food stuffs and energy globally. It is therefore, a prime facilitator of global trade and contributor of economic growth and employment both at sea and ashore.

Smart shipping as a key element of advanced global economies is a fast growing concept. Therefore, maritime transport and associated developments in maritime technologies need focused attention by developing maritime nations such as Pakistan. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights the role of seaborne trade as an engine for inclusive and sustainable growth and development, which is only possible through smart ports and shipping, which can unlock or undermine our economic potential. Today, ports are enhancing the efficiency with the overall goal of transforming into transhipment hubs which raise port earnings, attract frequent feeder services, create opportunities for coastal shipping, mining of marine minerals and other economic activities that’s why both Eastern and Western Economies are investing heavily in promotion of framework of blue economy like maritime icons of the world.



Singapore has been named the top maritime capital of the world in world ranking. It provides valuable insights into the global maritime industry by leading the global maritime capital of the world having four segments, shipping, finance & law, technology as well as ports & logistics. It emphasizes on driving innovation through partnerships and collaborations amongst industry partners, tertiary and research institutions and by increasing their focus to attract more R&D centres to their smart maritime city, by establishing multimodal corridor and maritime innovation lab. Singapore Maritime Data Hub (SG-MDH) will allow the land crew to sort out issues before it gets prolonged, as well as mitigate any future vessel problems via remotely controlled vessel applications. The multimodal corridor has the following key component which, if developed comprehensively, can immensely contribute to national economy.

Netherlands is operating ports in line with smart and energy-saving models through using natural energy as well as experience in collecting and recycling packaging materials towards circulating production. Local authorities have built a development plan focusing on infrastructure systems and foreign direct investment. They have developed a wireless sensor network with Libelium technology to manage canals traffic in the Netherlands by controlling the flow of boats. The Chinese port industry is characterized by rapid growth, large-scale foreign investment, and liberalization of port policy. A successful series of main reforms, which were implemented in three consecutive major stages, provided a solid foundation for the rapid development of ports and shipping in China. The defined strategy of Chinese port development has been successfully integrated with wider Chinese economic development. Appropriately designed and financed policies have also enabled the sustainable development of the ports and shipping industry as a whole.

Therefore, Pakistan must formulate a comprehensive maritime policy and strategy through maritime ‘awareness and knowledge’ among policy makers and the public. They should also encourage public-private partnerships to engage the industry and to deal with number of challenges while building its blue economy potential. Pakistan should embark upon boosting its economy while focusing on maritime infrastructure, technology for offshore resource development, a strong fishery industry, marine leisure sector, coastal tourism, electronic services, energy options, stringent regulations to control marine pollution and try to take full advantage from the entire supply chain and opportunities.

However, we need to remember that opportunities do not come without challenges, special emphasis be accorded to align our shipping fleet to modern trends via smart shipping. All the required financial and technological support should be geared up for building, operating, and making economically profitable industries as the concept of blue economy goes beyond sea business. This is rather a smart way of strategizing how to improve regional socio economic life by endorsing and internalizing the concept of a blue economy in policy, bilateral relations as well as international transactions. Institutions should be established to work on blue economy that may guide Pakistan to harness the potential and engage itself in the sustainable development of living and non-living resources of the seas to advance economic growth and enhance human security. This can be supplemented by a successful regional seas program for ocean governance and management.

[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]The contributors for this article are Rear Admiral (Retd) Mukhtar Khan HI(M), DG Bahria University Karachi Campus & Ms. Urooj Aijaz (Faculty Dept of H&SS; Bahria University Karachi[/box]

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