Nigeria to champion Africa’s blue economic development, says Amaechi
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Federal Government of Nigeria has said it is willing to partner sister African countries and relevant development agencies as part of efforts to advance the economic fortunes of the continent by ensuring safe and sustainable use of Africa’s vast sea and ocean resources.
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, who made this pledge while speaking at the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya, assured that the Nigerian government is committed to the development of the blue economic initiatives in Africa, which will grow the continent’s economy, adding that growth remained the most viable option for Africa’s development, especially in the wake of declining mineral and commodity prices.
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 potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of people, particularly those in developing countries.
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, the Minister said that the high level of participation at 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.
“As a country we are conscious of our responsibilities and international obligations which has given rise to our endorsement and domestication of key International Maritime Organisation IMO and other important African Union’s 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”, the Minister said.
Recall that the Federal Government had integrated the harnessing of the country’s abundant blue economic concept into its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan ERGP, which among others include formulation of a draft National Transport Policy, which is awaiting approval of the Federal Executive Council.
The policy, according to the Minister, 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.
Other steps taken by the government 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 also 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.”
“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.”
“We also hope 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”, Amaechi said.