The Nigerian economy and indeed African countries are currently losing out on the multi billion dollars opportunities inherent in the blue economy due to their inability to harness the enormous potentials.
This is as the ocean economy of countries like China and the United States of America (USA) reported an annual revenue of $962 billion and 10 percent contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of China in 2014 with 9 million jobs created in the same year. USA, on the other hand, valued its ocean economy at $258 billion in 2010, contributing 1.8 percent to the country’s GDP.
Speaking at the 2019 African Day of the Seas and Ocean, in Lagos on Thursday, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said the above statistics according to an Economist Intelligence Unit Report, underscore the opportunities, which Nigeria can use for rapid economic transformation and development.
Peterside, who noted that Nigeria has been witnessing growth in population and urbanisation in recent times, said the country must begin to develop interest in conservation, exploration and exploitation of the country’s marine biodiversity as a way of sustaining the increasing population.
“Nigeria can achieve accelerated economic growth and development through the regulation, exploitation and protection of her marine biodiversity through comprehensive and articulated approach that would not impact on the environment negatively.
“The need for government and critical stakeholders to put in place measures which would facilitate and promote sustainable use, protection and preservation of the abundant resource in Nigeria’s seas and oceans cannot be over emphasised,” he said.
Dakuku said NIMASA is committed to focusing on formulating policies that are in tandem with the development of the nation’s marine biodiversity towards enhancing economic growth in line with federal government economic diversification agenda, improved livelihoods and job creation.
According to him, NIMASA has concluded and forwarded six International Maritime Organisations (IMO) instruments on marine environment management for ratification including the Hong Kong Convention for the Sale and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 and the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessels Personnel and others.
While stating that the agency is undertaking a review of all the marine environment management regulations, he said NIMASA has made serious efforts towards ensuring the protection of the nation’s waterways.
In his remarks, Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the National Assembly is committed towards the nation’s quest for sustainable use and exploration of its seas and oceans to maximize the country’s vast economic potentials.
Represented by a member of the House representating Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency, Linda Ikpeazu, Gbajabiamila noted that efficient management and sustainable exploitation of the marine resources would provide a veritable tool for the nation’s Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) and give expression to the nation’s sustainable development goals.
He assured that the National Assembly would support the effort of the executive arm of government to see to the effective domestication of relevant international conventions of the International Maritime Organization on marine environment management through legislative enactments.
He added, “The National Assembly would also work with the executive arm in putting in place the necessary legal frame work for the blue economy to engender and protect the Nigerian marine environment and development of the ocean economy.”
Also speaking, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele kolo Kyari, said the country should not expect to harness its maritime biodiversity if it cannot curb insecurity in the country.
“It has been stated that for the last decade, Africa has been the epicenter of international maritime insecurity.
“Piracy and armed robbery at sea has re-emerged in the modern era off the East and West coasts of Africa alike, this has caused enormous human and financial damage. I have no doubt in my mind that with better and efficient maritime security in the country, economic activities in the maritime sector will flourish,” Kyari who was represented by the General Manager, Marine Unit, NNPC, Lamin Ibrahim said.
He however said NNPC as a corporation will always support NIMASA in its efforts to harness the opportunities in the marine environment, which ultimately would help accelerate the country’s economic growth.