By Ray Ugochukwu
The successful prosecution of the nation’s Blue Economy Project, initiated by the Nigerian Maritime and Administrative Agency (NIMASA), can only be achieved if only it is driven as a policy of government without political encumbrances.
This is the verdict of participants at the maiden edition of industry quarterly review forum of the Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) held at the weekend in Apapa, Lagos.
Leading the discussion on the Blue Economy Project at the event was the representative of the Lagos-based Sea Empowerment & Research Centre Limited/GTE, Mr. Francis Aniezechukwu, who cautioned that the initiative should not be politicized.
Rather he said the project should be driven by professionals who should add human face in its prosecution, noting that if properly executed, the nation and the entire Africa would be the better for it.
The researcher, who doubles as the organisation’s Director-General, Headquarters & International Affiliate, took time to x-ray similar project executed in other climes where its benefits has been quite humongous.
“The United States’ marine economy contributed about $373 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018 and grew faster than the nation’s economy as a whole, according to new statistics released recently by two U.S. Department of Commerce agencies”, he stated.
He added that a study which considered ten sectors representing businesses dependent on the country’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes between years 2014 and 2018 showed that marine-related GDP grew tremendously.
According to him, they “grew 5.8 per cent from 2017 to 2018, faster than the 5.4 per cent growth of the U.S. GDP as measured in current dollars. Business included in the report also supported 2.3 million jobs in 2018”.
For the European Union Blue Economy, he informed that a publication of the European Commission of June 27, 2018, showed that European maritime economy was the driver of economic growth, jobs and innovation.
The same, he said, went for the East Asian Blue Economy where the East Asian Seas (EAS) region was recognized as the centre of marine biodiversity globally, being home to 31 per cent of the world’s mangroves, 33 per cent of sea grass beds and a third of the world’s coral reefs.
Aniezechukwu asserted that if properly harnessed, the country’s Blue Economy was capable of funding the nation’s budget annually.
The forum expressed gladness that Nigeria’s Blue Economy had good prospects especially in the face of the current state of things in relation to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which it observed had gone down.
Participants made reference to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), showing reduction in piracy occurrences in the region as it went down from 62 incidents in the first quarter of 2019 to 47 in the corresponding period of 2020 down to 38 in 2021.