The Federal Government of Nigeria has expressed its readiness to cooperate with sister countries and development bodies to advance Africa’s prosperity through the safe and sustainable use of the continent’s vast sea and ocean resources. The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, made this known in his speech at the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, which ended in Nairobi on Wednesday. Amaechi, who conveyed Nigeria’s statement of commitment to the blue economy initiative, said its growth was the most viable option for Africa’s development in the wake of declining mineral and commodity prices. He said the high level participation in the conference demonstrated the importance African countries attached to the Blue Economy and their resolve to use the resources of the seas and oceans to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty to its barest minimum.
The Minister, who was represented by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated, “As a country we are conscious of our responsibilities and international obligations which have given rise to our endorsement and domestication of key International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and other important African Union continental instruments. “We are mindful and highly committed to our responsibilities to protect our marine environment to ensure that our continent does not become dumping ground for pollutants which can prevent exploration of ocean resources.”
Amaechi highlighted steps taken by the Federal Government to mainstream the blue economy concept into its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to include formulation of a draft National Transport Policy, which is awaiting approval of the Federal Executive Council. The policy, according to him, will provide the platform to implement at the country level the framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Africa’s maritime domain. The government has also constituted a high-powered committee, coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, to formulate and map out a roadmap to align the Blue Economy regime with the country’s ERGP, Amaechi said.
Other steps include the drafting of a dedicated anti-piracy bill, which is before the National Assembly, to provide the requisite framework for the fight, prosecution and punishment of piracy and other related crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, and approval for the acquisition of intelligence gathering maritime domain awareness assets and military response assets to fight pirates and make Nigeria’s maritime domain safe for economic activities. Amaechi said the Federal Government was investing heavily in the development of new infrastructure, such as deep sea ports and intermodal transport, to drive growth in the maritime sector. “All of these actions underscore the importance our government has placed on the Blue Economy Concept,” he said. He assured that Nigeria was fully committed to Africa’s drive to harness the vast potentials of its maritime domain, saying the country “will continue to cooperate with sister countries and developmental bodies to advance the prosperity of the African continent.”
In his words, “We pledge our commitment to the overarching issues of addressing poverty, corruption, trade barriers, and all those issues that have hindered growth. More particularly, Nigeria as a country will prioritise the integration of Blue Economy into our circular economic restoration and growth plan; we will leave no stone unturned to create limitless opportunities for our people and lift them out of poverty. This is our resolve as the most viable option we have for sustainable development is commitment to the Blue Economy.” Amaechi hoped that the conference would build on previous efforts by African Heads of Government to develop comprehensive and coherent strategies that address the Blue Economy, such as the African Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 (AIMS 2050); African Maritime Transport Charter; 2016 African Charter on Maritime Safety, Security and Development (Lome Charter); and “Agenda 2063”, which Nigeria has signed on to. The inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, which held from November 26 to 28 in the Kenyan capital, had over 15,000 participants from around the world. They gathered to discuss how to build a blue economy that harnesses the potentials of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of people, particularly those in developing countries.