Gbemisola Saraki lauds Nigeria’s pioneering initiative on Blue Economy

The Minister of State for Transportation, Ms Gbemisola Saraki, says that Nigeria is leading the initiative for the adoption and propagation of the Blue Economy in Africa.Saraki said this during the 4th Edition of the Lagos International Maritime Week with the theme, “Africa’s Blue Economy -Innovation Sustainability and Diversity” which opened in Lagos on Tuesday.Saraki, who was represented by Hajia Jumai Musa, Director Administration and Human Resources  Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that Nigerians should improve on sustainable utilisation of the ocean, sea, lakes, rivers resources.She said that NIMASA as head of Association of African Maritime Administrations had spearheaded the drive for the adoption of the blue economy.“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 lecture, the Chairman Ship Owners Forum, Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakusi, said that until recently, the idea of developing Blue Economy in Africa was always ignored or under-exploited. Onyema-Orakusi said that the Blue Economy was neglected in the past in spite of the fact that it could offer a range of solutions to African economy.“More than one-quarter of Africa’s population lives within 100 km of the coast and derive their livelihoods there.“According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2020, the annual economic value of energy activities related to maritime affairs will reach 2.5 billion euros.“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 water under Africa’s jurisdiction cover a surface of 13 million km, with a continental shelf of some 6.5 million km, comprising Exclusive Economic Zone,” she said.Onyema-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 said since capture fisheries faced the problem of over-fishing, the challenges of food security could be addressed through aquaculture production with the potential to transform the global food to system for better.Onyema-Orakusi listed some benefits of Blue Economy as employment opportunities, improved inter and intra-regional coastal trade in Africa, development of critical infrastructure for fishing and aquaculture business and promotion of coastal shipping, among others.In her opening remarks, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, Chief Executive Officer, Zoe Maritime Resources Ltd., convener of Lagos International Maritime week, said Blue Economy had become a topical issue in the world maritime discourse.Edodo-Emore said that the three-day conference would consider whether innovation had been used, is being used or could be used to expand Africa’s ocean economy.The conference would also explore how Africa was sustaining her ocean economy and whether or not the ocean economy was diversified, she said.According to her, Blue Economy does not work in isolation but affected and influenced by many factors including the security of its environment.She said that the conference would also introduce the youth to the maritime industry for mentoring, adding that her company had sponsored 10 law students to attend the programme. 

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