Long overdue’ – The establishment of a Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy excites stakeholders

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu swore in his 45-member cabinet on Monday. This happened a few days after he assigned them portfolios.

The formation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, on the other hand, has inspired considerable excitement among economic professionals and opinion leaders.

According to experts and players in Nigeria’s marine and aquatic sectors, the foundation of this ministry is a rare demonstration of the federal government’s determination to breathe life into and capitalize on economic development potential at sea.

They believe that if the new ministry is taken seriously and given the resources to perform effectively, it will lead the country to economic success and growth.

The term ‘Blue Economy’ refers to the long-term utilization of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and overall ocean health. It includes industries such as fisheries, aquaculture, renewable energy, tourism, biotechnology, and others.

While Nigeria slept for decades, other nations such as Egypt reaped bounties from the blue economy sector.

Egypt’s Suez Canal, which serves as a commercial route between Europe and Asia, is expected to earn $8 billion in revenue in 2022.

According to economic researchers, the blue economy sector has enormous potential for economic development, job creation, and the provision of livelihoods to coastal communities.

They estimate that it is worth more than $1.5 trillion per year globally, supports over 30 million jobs, and provides protein to over 3 billion people.

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In addition, the African Union stated in a report that the Blue Economy can bring Africa more than $300 billion per year.

With these prospects and opportunities in mind, the experts encouraged Adegboyega Oyetola, the pioneer Minister, and his colleagues in that ministry to fully grasp the concept and critical function of this unique and creative ministry.

They anticipate that the ministry will not only assist Nigeria in tapping into the world’s multibillion-dollar business but will also boost Africa’s largest economy’s ability to compete on a global scale.

According to Mr. Jude Nwandu, an economist and managing director of Netolinks Consultancy Lagos, the notion of a ‘Blue Economy’ has gained significance in the previous decade.

He based this on countries’ decreasing resources and the need for nations to diversify their economies in order to boost income to meet their people’s social requirements.

“Another major reason why the Blue Economy concept has become very important is the need to safeguard the earth through sustainable exploitation of marine resources for the benefit of generations unborn,” Nwandu told DAILY POST.

He also stated that the blue economy concept is centered on the achievement of certain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“An example is SDG 14, which addresses undersea life. Population expansion, according to SDG 14, exacerbates pollution, overfishing, coral bleaching, and coastal ecosystem damage.

“Two-thirds of marine areas have been damaged by human activity, and a third of sharks and rays, as well as a third of reef corals, are threatened with extinction,” the economist stated.

In addition, while commending President Tinubu for yielding to the long-awaited policy advocacy of the nation’s maritime community by establishing the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, projected that the government can drive N7trn revenue collection from the maritime sector.

“This is a significant omission.” Nigeria is a maritime nation that must advance policy concerns in order to capitalize on enormous economic prospects.

“This is a sector that, with proper government direction, will easily contribute at least N7 trillion to public revenue,” Agbakoba added.

Speaking on the prospects of the new ministry, Bashir Jamoh, the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), stated that the establishment of this ‘long overdue ministry’ will provide a significant boost to plans and programs that the President intends to implement in the maritime and aquaculture sectors of the economy.

Jamoh also urged Nigeria to seize chances in the Nigerian marine sector.

“There are new opportunities all around us, and I’m pleased that Nigeria, through the establishment of this ministry, will investigate the concept of the blue economy.”

“The blue economy is the long-term use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and job creation while protecting the ocean ecosystem’s health.”

Maritime shipping, fishing and aquaculture, coastal tourism, renewable energy, water desalination, undersea cabling, seabed extractive industries and deep-sea mining, marine genetic resources, and biotechnology are all examples of Blue Economy activities.”

“Honestly, this ministry has been long overdue, and more importantly, to support the diversification of the economy,” Jamoh continued.

Similarly, ship owners under the auspices of the Integrity Group of the Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA) agreed that the establishment of a Ministry of Maritime and Blue Economy is long overdue and would generate jobs, long-term prosperity, and wealth for the country.

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They had great hopes in the minister’s ability to achieve the desired outcome of the ministry’s establishment.

“We applaud the government’s vision in entrusting this critical responsibility to someone with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas.”

“We recognize that challenges may lie ahead, and the Integrity Group stands ready to provide assistance and expertise to ensure the success of initiatives aimed at improving the maritime sector.”

“We look forward to constructive dialogues and collaborative efforts that will further strengthen the industry’s role in the national economy,” NISA stated in a weekend statement.

Mr. Iroche, a scholar at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, England, appraised the potential of the Blue economy and set the agenda for the new ministry, arguing that the government’s move to delve into the potential of Nigeria’s untapped marine and blue economy must be established, with a clear understanding of the concept and the immense benefits it holds for the nation.

He stated that the establishment of the blue economy demonstrates that governments recognize the critical need for the country to diversify its economy and move away from its heavy reliance on a single commodity, crude oil.

Iroche stated that the shifting worldwide demand for oil, as well as environmental issues, make it critical for Nigeria to pursue new funding sources.

He emphasized that the blue economy offers a potential path to long-term economic growth, new job opportunities, and foreign investment.

“By fully embracing the blue economy, Nigeria stands to gain a plethora of benefits.” For starters, it allows for economic diversification, lessening the country’s dependency on crude oil.

“For example, the fisheries sector has enormous potential for Nigeria’s economic development.” The country has an abundance of fisheries resources due to its 850-kilometer-long coastline.

“However, Nigeria’s fisheries sector remains largely underdeveloped due to limited infrastructure, outdated fishing techniques, and inadequate regulatory frameworks.”

“By investing in modern fishing technologies, improving infrastructure, and enforcing effective regulations, Nigeria can significantly increase its fish production for both domestic and export consumption.” “Not only would this boost the economy, but it would also improve food security and alleviate poverty in coastal communities,” he said.

Nigeria’s blue economy potential includes maritime transportation.

According to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, the sea transports 80% of world trade.

The UNCTAD estimates that the daily volume of trade moving on the water is $3.4 trillion. This is a significant revenue stream for governments that have positioned themselves to benefit from the potential of the blue economy.

And Iroche feels that the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy must act quickly to join the League of Nations reaping the benefits of the wealth.

“With our strategic location in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria can become a major hub for maritime trade and logistics in West Africa,” he stated.

“By developing and modernizing its ports, improving connectivity, and strengthening maritime security, Nigeria will be able to attract more shipping companies, increase trade volumes, and generate significant revenue.” This would boost not only the country’s economy but also its standing as a regional economic powerhouse.

“Another aspect of the blue economy that Nigeria can tap into is renewable energy.” The huge water resources of the country make it a perfect location for the development of hydroelectric power and other forms of renewable energy.

“The ministry would need to coordinate with the Ministry of Power.” Nigeria can reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, prevent climate change, and offer clean, affordable electricity to its inhabitants by investing in renewable energy infrastructure.

“Not only would this contribute to sustainable development, but it would also create jobs and attract investments in the renewable energy sector.”

“The potential of Nigeria’s blue economy extends to tourism.” In order to develop tourism and realize its full potential, the ministry must interact and cooperate with the Ministry of Tourism.

“The country’s beautiful coastlines, diverse marine ecosystems, and rich cultural heritage make it appealing to both domestic and international tourists.”

“By investing in coastal tourism infrastructure, encouraging sustainable tourism practices, and protecting marine biodiversity, Nigeria can boost its tourism industry, create jobs, and generate revenue.”

“This would not only contribute to economic growth but would also promote cultural exchange and environmental conservation,” he said.

Iroche, on the other hand, emphasized that the government must invest in new technologies, enhance infrastructure, adopt effective regulations, and encourage sustainable practices in order to fully realize this potential in the blue economy sector.

“By doing so, Nigeria can pave the way for sustainable economic growth, job creation, and a brighter future for its citizens,” he said.

He asked the administration to work together to strengthen the new ministry.

“The potentials of the blue economy are numerous, but to realize them, clear strategies must be developed, as well as a sustained commitment and political will to implement the strategies,” he said.

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