Stakeholders seek aggressive implementation of blue economy
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have said implementing the blue economy roadmap will address unemployment and economic instability, while opening up the country to international trading community.
They stated this at the 2022 edition of the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) yearly conference and awards held in Lagos.
The Managing Director of NLNG Ship Management Limited (NSML), Abdulkadir Ahmed, said the country needed to imbibe standards, efficiency, quality, safety and security to drive the development of the blue economy.
He said capacity, competence and domesticating diversity to drive the blue economy were very critical, adding that without people and competent hands it will be impossible to ensure the project is sustainable.
He also noted that domesticating global skill sets in shipping and marine services was critical to the blue economy.
Ahmed also stressed the effective and sustainable development of the blue economy through the automation of regulatory infrastructure, creating an enabling environment, improving the ease of doing business and other critical elements.
The Secretary General of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA), Dr. Paul Adalikwu, said the invaluable contribution of the deep blue assets to the reduction of maritime crimes as advocated by the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act could not be overemphasized.
Adalikwu, who was represented by MOWCA’s Media Adviser, Ismail Aniemu, said the safety of vessels, cargoes and crewmembers across any maritime area was the first major step in promoting trade and investment
According to him, conversations around the blue economy will relate to job creation, economic stability and opening up the region to the international community.
He said bringing automation into the issue would further integrate stakeholders with a common purpose to share information and timely respond to the demands of the industry.
“In the nearest future, MOWCA hopes to interface online and real-time with all our relevant maritime administrations for an update, information sharing and engender quick action where and when necessary for safe, pollution free and cost-effective shipping in our region and across Africa,” he said.
Adalikwu urged government agencies in the region and development partners to consider more seamless integration through automation of their processes on common platforms as a way of achieving faster collaboration, quicker information sharing and prompt response time to emergencies
He said this will also reduce and ultimately eliminate the incidents of Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (UII) Fishing, which is one way our marine resources are being stolen, thereby, leaving potentially rich African maritime states poorer than they ought to be.
On his part, the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, said the coveted blue economy resources cannot be fully realised if the coastal waters or inland waterways are not deliberately integrated into the overall national master plan of the country.
Moghalu, who was represented by the General Manager, Marine Operations, Joseph Ororo, said a lot of economic activities abound on the inland waterways, which could be exploited by both the government and the private sector, adding that these opportunities, if well harnessed, will yield several economic benefits to the nation
According to him, inland waterways, as an alternative means of transporting economic goods and passengers, is very key to the development of the country.
He said the development of the waterways would drastically bring down logistics costs and bring about competitiveness in the country’s export across the world.
Moghalu also noted that leveraging on inland waterways to move cargoes within the country would help relieve pressure on the roads and ease congestion at the ports corridor as well as provide lots of potential for economic growth, which include, housing and tourism, create an employment market as well as booming industries in both agriculture and processing sector to encourage rural settlement along the coastline communities
Speaking earlier, the President, the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria, Paul Ogbuokiri, said the blue economy resources, which have remained mere potential over the years, have been identified as the low-hanging fruit that the country could easily pluck to create abundance for its rapidly growing population.
He said the blue economy guarantees sustainable exploitation of all resources in the marine environment, including but not limited to, fisheries, hydrocarbons, aquatic life, maritime transport, tourism, ports and harbour development and maintenance, among others.
He expressed the belief that the coming together by the government agencies under the Federal Ministry of Transportation to digitise their internal processes and maintain focus on actualising the National Single Window regime in the nation’s transportation sector, will add impetus to the objectives of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria (ECSBEN) initiative.
Ogbuokiri advised Customs, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other agencies involved in ports operations, should, in line with modern trends, come under one ICT umbrella to enhance ease of doing business in the industry.