By Steve Agbota, styvenchy@yahoo.com

By 2030, member states of the African Union (AU) have projected that their blue economy capacity will be worth $405 billion creating  57 million jobs.  They however noted that only African nations with clear understanding of maritime industry and have the political will can harness the benefits of the blue ocean economy by protecting their oceans and seas.

With a coastline of 852 kilometres bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea and a maritime area of over 46,000 sqkm, Nigeria possesses fresh mangrove swamps, creeks, coastal rivers, estuaries, bays, and offshore waters. Eight out of the 36 Nigerian states, with 25 per cent of Nigeria’s total population, share the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

The country is blessed with abundant resources in oceans and seas to back its economic diversification and development drive.

Consequently, some experts have said that Nigeria has no reason lagging  behind but can only tap into this huge amount through emergent policy for marine sustainability and sustainable blue economy paradigm.

In view of this, stakeholders at the recent 3rd Annual symposium of African Marine Environment Sustainability Initiative (AFMESI) called for urgent need for Nigeria to take advantage of the growing need to harness and utilise all the potential resources of the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the socio economic emancipation of the Nigerian people.

Daily Sun learnt that since the concept of the blue economy began to gain traction decades ago, maritime nations have been harnessing the full benefits of the ocean economy by protecting their oceans and seas, which is why AFMESI is seeking measures to secure Gulf of Guinea from maritime crimes.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Transportation Mrs. Gbemisola Saraki, said there is need to develop and prioritise blue economy sector, adding that it was unfortunate that most African countries are still lagging behind in taking the initial steps of identifying and prioritising blue economy strategies and understanding the risk to sea and ocean health.

Saraki who spoke through a Deputy Director at the Ministry of Transportation, Ofie Adams noted that “except for few, many have yet to develop integrated blue economy strategies and road maps, which delays the progress and vision for an African blue economy envisaged by Agenda 2063 and 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy.”

In Nigeria, to underscore the importance Nigeria’s government has placed on blue economy concept, she said that Federal Government, in addition to signing the African Union Agenda-2063 charter, has equally taken bold steps to mainstream the blue economy concept into its Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to include formulation of a draft National Transport Policy, which awaiting approval of the Federal Executive Council.

According to her, the policy is to provide the platform, at the country level, to implement the framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Africa’s maritime domain.

She said that has also constituted and inaugurated a high-powered committee, coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, to formulate and draw a roadmap to align the blue economy regime with the country’s ERGP.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, noted that despite the potential benefits and opportunities associated with the aquatic resources, the resources of the oceans and inland waters are under serious threats due largely to neglect as well as climate change and extreme weather situation. The Minister who spoke through the Permanent Secretary Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Babayo Ardo, noted the impact of pollution arising mainly from effects of overexploitation, exploration and exploitation of the resources especially petroleum product including the issue of insecurity.

He hinted that the theme for the symposium is to challenge member States of the AU of their various roles and contributions to the development of the blue economy which is projected to generate about  $296 billion with 49 million jobs, he further informed that by 2030 the figures will be $405 billion with 57 million jobs while in 2063 estimates would be $576 billion of value created and 78 million of jobs.

He explained that currently the blue economy initiative is in the front burner as a result of its huge gains in the area of job creation and socio economic development.

Also speaking at the event, the President AFMESI, Dr. Felicia Mogo, stated that AFMESI symposium provides platforms for reevaluating the marine environment of Africa both in terms of potential and stressors, adding that AFMESI is trying to recommend best strategies to exploration for this resources for the benefit of mankind and preservation of the environment itself.

“So, while doing this we also try to see who to write all the resolutions and the appropriate implementations tools to the benefits of coastal boundaries and their landlocked neighbours across Africa, thereby pointing at growth that not just consider only economic benefits but that starts on social accountability and ensure inclusiveness in calculating Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Political participation is a key factor for the realization policy for marine sustainability and sustainable blue economy paradigm. This year symposium provides an opportunity for stakeholders to present and share knowledge on several environmental issues related to the future of our marine environment.

“AFMESI is seeking implementation of measures to securing Gulf of Guinea, inter-regional corporation, the role of science in governing our ocean amongst others; AFMESI believes that at the end of this symposium actionable communiqué that would come out will spur restoration of African prosperity,” she said.

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Source: news