By Isaac Anumihe
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday, said that the sea contributes 95 per cent of international trade in Nigeria but piracy, marine pollution and pipeline vandalism pose the greatest challenge to the nation.
The Minister, who spoke at the third African Day of the Seas and Oceans in Lagos, organised by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), also said that in addition to the threats, the nation was also grappling with chronic shortage of indigenous shipping capacity. Despite these challenges, he noted that the government was committed in the shaping of international ocean governance in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
“We are embarking on bilateral and multilateral engagements with our coastal neighbouring countries to achieve an improved and sustainable enforcement framework. The recent code of conduct entered into by Heads of Government of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) for the fight against piracy, sea robbery and other maritime crimes, is an effort in this direction,” he said.
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy highlighted the fact that 38 African countries are either coastal or island states with a land mass covering over 35,000 kilometres.
According to him, the African continent has large expanse of seas and oceans, which represent major assets to accelerate the development of the continent’s economies. So, in line with the goal of Africa’s agenda 2063, which is aimed at ushering in the Africa that is desirable, NIMASA as the country’s apex maritime regulatory agency has considered it necessary to continue championing the awareness on Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy and the blue economy through the hosting of the Day of Africa Seas and Oceans.
“The theme for this year’s event is ‘Harnessing Africa’s Maritime Potential for Sustainable Development’. This theme is very apt considering the fact that African seas and oceans hold the key to unlocking the potential of the blue economy towards Africa’s sustainable development,” he said.
Also speaking, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Boss Mustapha, said that over three billion people across the continent depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihood. He explained that the benefits accruing from oceans and seas are numerous some of which include contribution to poverty eradication, creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work.
“Also, oceans are crucial to global food security and human health just as they are primary regulators of global climate and host huge reservoir of biodiversity,” he said.