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A step forward for blue economy – Part 1

By Dr. Bashir Jamo
26 January 2022   |   2:45 am
The inauguration on January 17, 2022, of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria (ECSBEN) at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Abuja, by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.....

Director-General, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh

The inauguration on January 17, 2022, of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria (ECSBEN) at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Abuja, by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, marks formal commencement of a project that would enable the country to benefit optimally from the numerous resources it is endowed with, which lie buried under its waters – ocean, rivers, lakes and creeks – beyond oil and gas. It is also a significant push in the federal government’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy, to reduce dependence on oil. Apart from the opportunity for exploration and development of more mineral resources, the Blue Economy will bring about increase in fishing and other activities. This stems from the very high probability that the country’s waters – whether blue or brown – hold more than has been discovered and is being utilized.

Like the Vice President noted while inaugurating the ECSBEN, the Blue Economy is a new frontier for economic development and a means of diversifying the national economy through the use of resources from oceans, seas, rivers and lakes for the wellbeing of the people. The Vice President is therefore right when he stated that the Blue Economy will provide a positive contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2052 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (2052 AIM Strategy) and the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

The ECSBEN is to provide an assessment of the current realities, opportunities and challenges for economic diversification and the growth of a sustainable blue economy in Nigeria; identify and review relevant policies and institutional/capacity building mechanisms for blue economy development in Nigeria; identify regional and cross-border partnerships or collaborations necessary for implementation of the blue economy plan; identify the relevant sectors, actors and linkages, and develop a national action plan with implementation strategy for the development of the Nigerian blue economy.

The ECSBEN is also mandated to identify potential funding sources for initiatives launched under the implementation plan and strategies; provide oversight for the implementation of the Nigerian plan for Sustainable Blue Economy by recommending a robust and effective governance arrangement; as well as recommend such other activities as may be considered necessary for the development of the Nigerian Blue Economy. The committee is also to submit appropriate recommendations for the development of the Nigerian Blue Economy.

Without a doubt, the terms of reference for the ECSBEN is very comprehensive and underscores government’s commitment to the exploration and development of a gold mine that is waiting to be harnessed, which holds opportunities for the country. This is another avenue for stimulation of economic activities, job creation, revenue generation and significant boost in the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). I have no doubt that ECSBEN, which I can simply describe as star-studded, will deliver on its mandate.

The committee comprises maritime agencies such as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Maritime Academy of Nigeria. Others are ministers of Foreign Affairs, Power, Finance, Environment, Agriculture and Water Resources; Trade and Investment; Chief of Naval Staff, Comptroller General of Customs, Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. The committee also includes governors of the eight littoral states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Delta, Rivers and Lagos, as well as Ogun and Bornu.

Composition of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy has taken into account the strategic importance of all the members, for their relevance and expected contribution to achieving the overall objective of the project.

Next week, I will dwell topically on the thematic groups of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria and the tasks assigned to each of them.

Meanwhile, it is important to state that the need to explore and develop Nigeria’s Blue Economy arises from the fact that it has the potential to create an avenue for further expansion of some economic sectors that are currently operational, like power, oil and gas, fishing, as well as full development of water transportation. The latter could go beyond the boundaries of littoral starts into states with huge potential for water transportation, especially those that border rivers Niger and Benue, as well as others smaller rivers.

Certainly, by the time the resources in Nigeria’s waters are well harnessed under the Blue Economy project, the national economy will witness a boom that will make it to rank as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Of course, Nigerians will be the better for it.
• Dr. Jamoh, Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, writes exclusively for The Guardian

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