By Eromosele Abiodun in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Chairman of the African Union (AU) and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has called on African governments to put measures in place to protect Africa’s rich marine resource and the environment, saying the continent already loses a whooping $42 billion (N15.12 trillion) annually to the devastating effect of climate change.
The AU Chairman stated this in his address at the 4th Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) conference holding in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Represented by the African Union Permanent Representative at the League of Arab States, Bouzahar Abdel Hamid, he said Africa must urgently take advantage of its maritime resource to grow its economy and ensure sustainable development.
According to him, “The theme of the 2018 Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA) conference, ‘Protecting Africa’s Marine Environment,’ is apt considering that Africa loses a whooping $42 billion annually as a result of the devastating effect of climate change on its marine environment. The African Union Commission places importance on the blue economy as an option for the development of the African economy. The blue economy has been described as the new frontline of Africa’s renaissance. It is for that reason that the AU is working towards it being a catalyst of the growth of the African economy.
In his speech, the Chairman of AAMA and Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the theme of the conference is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development unanimously adopted by 192 members of the United Nations in 2015.
This historic agreement, he added, forged a pathway to sustainability and a strategy called a plan of action for people.
“Our choice of the theme is to show AAMA’s commitment to protecting African marine environment to support sustainable development. This is also evident in our continued desire to adapt to global standards for safe, secured and efficient maritime transport, “he said.
Africa, he said, saw into the future in 2014 when the African Union adopted Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050.
“The idea is to position maritime and particularly seaborne transportation as the hub or force of driving development in the African continent.”
“The global desire to mobilise effort for sustainable development again further drove African Heads of State and Heads of Government at an extra-ordinary session held in Lome, Togo in October 2016, to adopt a chatter on maritime security, safety and development. The adoption of the Lome chatter provides a means for signatories to commit to specific actions to promote Africa and a sustainable blue economy. What the revised African maritime transport chatter of 2010 and the 2015 aims strategy gives broad based outlines of where Africans states should be heading. Also, the African Union agenda 2063 sees the marine economy as a major contributor to economic growth.
“The plethora of national and institutional maritime strategies has continued to emerge as important building blocks for sustainable development of our maritime domain all of this underscore the need to for maritime administrators in Africa to join efforts to protect our God given rich maritime resources and environment. The objective of every African maritime administrator is aligned with International Maritime Organization (IMO) objective of safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans. The work of IMO relates to most if not all of the SGDs 14 target and more, particularly as it relates to environmental protection, “he said.