The Chairman Ship Owners Forum, Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakusi, has called on Nigeria and other African countries to harness their blue economy potential for the well-being of their citizens, stressing that the African maritime industry is already worth $1 trillion.
Orakusi made the disclosure during the 4th edition of the Lagos International Maritime Week with the theme: “Africa’s Blue Economy -Innovation Sustainability and Diversity,” held in Lagos.
She said with the right policies implemented, the figure could triple in just two years, adding that until recently, that the idea about development of blue economy in Africa was always ignored or underexploited.
“It is of this reason that development of Africa’s blue economy is included in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and a practical handbook on the blue economy was prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in March 2016.”
Orakusi, said the blue economy was neglected in the passed without minding the fact that it could offer a range of solution to African economic.
“More than one-quarter of Africa’s population lives within 100km of the coast and derive their livelihood there. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2020, the annual economic value of energy activities belated to maritime affairs will reach EUR 2.5billion.
“Out of the 54 African countries, 34 are coastal countries and over 90 per cent of African export and import are transported by sea. The territorial waters under Africa jurisdiction cover a surface of 13 million km twice, with a continental shelf of some 6.5/million km twice comprising Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), She said.
Orakusi, said that aquaculture was a key driver of the blue economy, which made it capable of providing food, nutrition and employment opportunities to the people of Africa.
She explained further that since capture fisheries faced the problem of overfishing, the challenges of food security could be addressed through aquaculture production being the potential to transform the global food to system for better. She listed some benefits of blue economy such as employment opportunities, improve inter and intra-regional coastal trade in Africa, development of critical infrastructure for fishing and aquaculture business, promotion of coastal shipping among others.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Transport, Mrs Gbemisola Saraki, said Nigeria emerged the leader in the continent of Africa for the initiative in adopting and propagating the blue economy in Africa.
Saraki, who was represented by the Director, Administration and Human Resources of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Jumai Musa, said that Nigerians should improve on sustainable utilisation of the ocean, sea, lake, rivers and resources.
According to her, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, being the Chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrations, had spearheaded the drive for the adoption of the blue economy.
She said that as a continent that the blue economy would have a wide standard for the management of marine resources.
“It is also important to note that the United Nations (UN) prescribed the blue economy as a stimulus concept capable of facilitating the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, no. 14 of which pertains to ” Life Below Water, “she said.
In her opening remarks, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Zoe Maritime Resources Limited and convener of Lagos International Maritime week, Mrs. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore said blue economy had become a topical issue in the world maritime discourse.