MINA Blog- Major stakeholders in Nigeria’s blue economy have made a case for urgent formulation of National Policy on Blue Economy and creation of a full fledge Federal Ministry of Blue Economy to harness the immense potential in the ocean ecosystem.
Blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.
The strategic stakeholders at the ongoing three-day ‘The Nigeria Blue Economy Stakeholders Conference’ at the BWC Hotel, Lagos from February 15-17, 2022 are of the view that the potential of the emerging new sector will naturally eclipse what are currently obtainable in oil and gas and cannot be subsume under any ministry.
Mr Soji Mr Adeleye, Chief Executive Officer, Alfe City Institution, the convener of the Nigeria Blue Economy Stakeholders Conference in his introductory speech said “The blue economy has diverse components, including established traditional ocean industries such as fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport, but also new and emerging activities, such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive activities, and marine biotechnology and bioprospecting.
“The scope for blue Economy is very elastic as consideration of business around the ocean must include the rivers that flows into it hence rivers and basins are now seen as essential part of the Blue Economy.”
The stakeholders that made presentations at the day 2 of the national forum include the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Mr Eric Giercksky, Head UN Global Compact Sustainable Ocean Business Action Platform; Chief (DR.) George N. Moghalu, Managing Director/ CEO, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA); and Mr Hilary, Owoidighe Efanga (Academic Staff), School of Maritime Transport Studies, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
The Minister of Information and Culture who spoke on ‘How development of a Nigerian Blue Economy can contribute to tourism business in Nigeria’ said, “The concept of Blue Economy is spreading rapidly through the world. The objective is to transform our economy, habitats and the planet. One of its key pillars is sustainability. With many similarities to Green Economy, the blue model aims at improving life as a whole, encompassing social aspects like; equity, reduction of ecological risks and improving the economy through sustainable practices for the benefit of current and future generations.”
The Minister who was represented by Mr Sunday Bisong said with an over abundance of extensive maritime space, Nigeria has the potential to fully operationalize the Blue Economy for enhanced economic growth.
However, the minister said the drive to harness the potential in the blue economy is hindered by Absence of a strategic maritime economic blue print and policy direction; Inadequate data; Maritime insecurity: high incidence of piracy, smuggling, human trafficking; Poor investment capacity and limited access to finance; Lack of stakeholders’ involvement and support; Weak inter-institutional cooperation and coordination; Economic analysis and measurement: Limited cost benefits analysis and impact on stakeholders; Human capital shortage; and Coastal area pollution.
On the action plan to explore the huge potential presented by the blue economy, he said there should be improvement of inter-institutions cooperation to promote cross-sector policies; creation of specific networks to enhance investment attractiveness and management capacity; build capacity and awareness: education and training initiatives; develop and enforce appropriate legal framework; develop accurate database of all maritime activities; adoption of appropriate technology: Digitization of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Others include, “collaboration and engagement of States and local communities in the coastal regions with Agencies such as Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Sustainable Development Goals office (SDGs), Nigerian Navy, etc.
“Investing in critical maritime infrastructure and develop strong political will for the development of an efficient Blue Economy for Nigeria.”
Mr Eric Giercksky, Head UN Global Compact Sustainable Ocean Business Action Platform who made his presentation on ‘The process of building a sustainable Blue Economy that would transform the Nigerian economy and contribute to achieving the country’s sustainable development goals’ virtually from Oslo, Norway listed five tipping points for a healthy and productive ocean as Healthy and nutritious food from the ocean; Decarbonizing shipping; Electricity from the Ocean; End waste entering the ocean; and Ocean science and data.
“Sustainable Ocean Business is a trillion dollar opportunity. With solid frameworks and science based targets, we will accelerate inclusive and resilient solutions,” he said.
DR. George N. Moghalu, in his paper, ‘The challenges of keeping the internal waterways navigable’ said, “Impediments to Navigation is not just only blockage of channels by wrecks, dirts, hyacinths, high saltation of riverbeds but the issue of insecurity is also a major challenge.
“However, there is heavy infrastructural intervention requirement to make these waterways navigable – Dredging to remove silt and other impediments; construction of River ports and Jetties; installation and maintenance of navigational aids such as Buoys, Lights and Marks, River Training Works, etc; are compulsory requirements for safe/secure navigability.”
Hillary O. Efanga in his presentation ‘A critical review of the present state of the Nigeria Atlantic Coast and the security and safety challenges of building a safe and secured Nigerian Blue Economy’ said “Though governments has made several efforts to respond to quest for global Blue Economy initiatives and innovations, which has been proven to be diverse, dynamic and extensive, but this key aspect of the economic apparatus is extremely underutilized and undeveloped, whereas, according to projections, by 2030, the ‘Blue Economy’ could outperform the growth of the global economy as a whole, both in terms of value added and employment.”
Commodore S.D Atakpa of the Nigerian Navy and Engr Saliu Ahmed, Managing Director, Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority who joined in a panel discussion on the theme of the conference ‘Creating the pathway for a sustainable Nigerian economy’ also made strong case for the blue economy to create jobs and achieve rapid economic development.
While Engr Ahmed noted that preserving the life of rivers was essential, Commodore Atakpa said the sustainability component of the blue economy was very important.
Commodore Atakpa who had been involved in several researches on the blue economy said there would be a need for the creation of Ministry of Blue Economy to achieve the immense potential in the sector.
The interest of the participants from across the country was attracted by his disclosure that a quantity of ocean cucumber that was bought with about a dollar in Nigeria later sold for 6000 dollar after export to Singapore.