Dr. Dakuku Peterside, DG NIMASA

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, has said that Africa’s oceans and seas possess huge economic potential  that could enhance the growth and development of the continent if adequately harnessed and utilised.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who spoke at the 2017 edition of the ‘Africa Day of Seas and Oceans’,  with the theme: ‘Harnessing Africa’s Maritime potential for sustainable development’ disclosed that Africa has seas and oceans that possess huge economic benefits that can transform the entire economic landscape of the continent if such endowments are optimally utilised.

It was in the light of this that the African Union declared 2015-2025 the decade of the Africa’s Oceans and Seas.

According to him, the decision of the AU to declare this period a decade of Africa’s Oceans and Seas should be viewed as a paradigm shift that recognises the fact that the continent’s oceans and seas are economic infrastructure, a development that make it incumbent on stakeholders in the maritime industry to work together to harness these potential for the development of the continent’s

He said: “It is a well-known fact that Africa’s ocean and seas are usually overlooked when it comes to issues of sustainable development in Africa, to the extent that Africa is considered to be sea blind; sea blind because there is low level awareness of the potentials for wealth creation which abounds in the seas and oceans. This event therefore tends to show that our eyes are gradually being opened to the reality that our seas and oceans possess huge source of economic resources that can take the continent to the next level”, the DG said.

While describing the theme of this year’s event as very apt, the NIMASA DG noted that it is in line with the overall goals of Africa’s Agenda 2063 which is aimed at ushering in the Africa that we all desire with the capacity to generate wealth from sustainable governance of Africa’s seas and oceans.

He therefore assured stakeholders that NIMASA as the maritime regulatory Agency has considered it necessary to continue championing the awareness on Africa Integrated Maritime-Strategy and the Blue Economy through the Day of the seas and oceans and other sensitisation programmes the agency will still embark upon.

The DG however informed participants that NIMASA is currently championing the passage of a dedicated anti-piracy law aimed at tackling piracy and all forms of illicit crimes on the nation’s waterways.

He disclosed that the desire of the Federal Government is to ensure cleaner oceans and to eliminate sea piracy, armed robbery and all forms of illegalities within Nigeria’s maritime space which is in line with the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy AIMS.

Peterside observed that our Seas and Oceans are our heritage and we must do all we can to protect it; pointing out that NIMASA will continue to work together with all relevant government agencies to ensure that our maritime sector is safe, clean and secured in order to continue to attract both local and foreign investors.

Also Professor Charles Ukeje who spoke on ‘Securing the African Marine Environment for Sustainable Development’ noted that harnessing and sustainable use of our oceans and seas are the key to unlocking prosperity for the economy.

He however argued that NIMASA alone cannot do this without the effective planning which must cut across public and private sectors of the economy on a long term basis, including well trained personnel.

Meanwhile, Dr. Magnus Chidi Onuoha who also spoke on the sub theme of the event: ‘Harnessing Resources from Seas and Oceans for the African Youth Empowerment’, identified people, prosperity and the planet as the key to sustainable development of the maritime sector in Africa and said that the marine environment was crucial to the survival of the continent.

Other speakers at the event led by the Chairman of the session, Mr. Norrsion Quakers, SAN unanimously called for collaborative and concerted efforts among Stakeholder in actualizing a virile maritime sector.

Also present were; NIMASA Board Chairman, Rtd. Major General, India Garba, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Mr. Boss Mustapha, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers’ Council, Barrister Hassan Bello and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas who was represented by the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Abbah amongst others.

Recall that the 22nd Ordinary Session of Heads of States and Governments adopted the 2050 AIM Strategy and its Plan of Action, including a roadmap for the incremental implementation of the strategy in line with International Maritime Law.

The Strategy includes a framework for action on, inter alia: fisheries and aquaculture; environmental and biodiversity monitoring; marine tourism; disaster risk management DRM; handling and shipment of hazardous materials and dangerous goods; maritime governance; flag state and port state control; and illegal activities, including money laundering, piracy, maritime terrorism and human trafficking and smuggling by sea.

The African Day of the Seas and Oceans was instituted by the African Union in 2015. It seeks to draw attention to the strategic importance of proper management of marine resources for the development of the African continent in a sustainable manner.