••Says Nigeria’s untapped maritime potentials enough to rescue the nation from huge debt overhang
By Silas Onuoha
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh has said that Blue Economy is not a new phenomenon but one that had exited from creation.
Speaking at the Bullion Annual Lecture organised by the Centre for Financial Journalism under the theme “Banking on Blue Economy for Nigeria’s Economic Development”, the NIMASA DG however, blamed its non-recoginition by the country’s industry stakeholders on what he called ‘seablindness”, a situation whereby the people are unaware of the impact of shipping in their daily lives.
The NIMASA boss informed that the untapped blue economic potential presents great optimism for economic growth for the nation, enough to rescue it from its huge debt.
He stated that Nigeria is blessed with a coastline of more than 850kilometres from Badagry in Lagos to Bakassi in Cross River State, “this remains huge economic advantage to the country with the development of the potential,”he said.
Noting that Nigeria has been over dependent on the oil sector for economic survival, called for diversification of the economy by harnessing the vast and rich blue economic potential moving forward.
“Nigeria had focused on a hybrid economic structure that blends oil with agriculture but the former remained consistent as economic mainstay ahead of the latter over the years. Today, the waters provide low hanging fruits to diversify the economy. It is increasingly being accepted that the country’s future lies in the Blue Economy.
“We need to take stock of what is out there in our waters, we need to know what we have in terms of what will create jobs, build coastal communities, grow careers, enhance transport of humans and cargo, renew and sustain the environment, reduce poverty and make our nation competitive by maximising our comparative ocean advantages”.
On his part, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, said that there is no money in the government’s coffers, adding that the incoming administration will be inheriting a huge debt. “If you look at the blue economy, you will think that it’s child’s play, but it is not. Once we are serious, we can use the blue economy to knock out the debts,”he said.
Agbakoba however, stated that the government can solve some of its monetary issues by tapping into the potentials and opportunities presented by the blue economy.
He also reiterated the need for a Maritime Ministry. He argued that the industry has a lot to offer, adding that the aviation sector, which is not as big as maritime has its own ministry.
Going further, Dr Jamoh explained that while many confine their thinking to a blue economy concept that revolves around littoral states where large bodies of waters are found with ports and jetties, the benefits are cascading to none littoral areas like Kaduna, Kano who now have dry ports; and Northern based businesses and importers can depend on trans-shipment of cargoes from the seaports to these dry ports.
Giving the five key pillars of the Blue Economy as sustainability; promoting ocean resources; preservation of the ecosystem; economic growth, as well as improved livelihoods and jobs, he pointed out that the industry is valued at 2.5 trillion USD per annum, 350 million jobs is linked to marine fisheries worldwide; while 34% offshore crude production by aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector providing 50% of fish for humanity.
“In 2012, sea tourism increased by four per cent despite the global economic crisis and constituted nine per cent of Global GDP: nine per cent of global jobs; and generated $1.3 trillion or per cent of the world’s export.
He listed maritime transportation, fisheries, aquaculture, renewable energy, tourism, climate change, waste management, port development and logistics, shipping, dockyards, marine tourism, dredging, offshore oil & gas exploration and production, renewable energy & biotechnology, and maritime fabrication and construction as key segments of the blue economy.