The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has stressed the need to harness the huge economic opportunities in African seas and oceans.
He stated that the African Union had declared the year 2015 to 2025 as the Decade of Africa’s Seas and Oceans, adding that this should be perceived as a shift in perspective and the recognition of the fact that the nation’s oceans and seas were economic infrastructure.
At the event, which had in attendance experts and stakeholders from the maritime and other related sectors across Nigeria, Peterside said the African maritime sector was usually overlooked in the area of sustainable development, to the extent that Africa was considered to be sea blind due to lack of awareness of the potential of wealth creation.
“This event therefore tends to show that our eyes are gradually being open to the reality that our seas and oceans possess huge source of economic resources that can take the continent to the next level,” he said.
The NIMASA DG described the theme of the event, which was ‘Harnessing African Maritime Potential for Sustainable Development’ as very apt, noting that it was in line with the overall goals of Africa’s Agenda 2063, which was aimed at ushering in a desirable Africa with the capacity to generate wealth from sustainable governance of Africa’s seas and oceans.
Peterside stressed that the seas and oceans were the nation’s heritage, which must be protected.
He pledged that NIMASA as the maritime regulatory agency would continue to champion the awareness of African Integrated Maritime-Strategy and the Blue Economy through the Day of the Seas and Oceans and other sensitisation programmes of the agency.
He disclosed that the agency was championing the passage of a special bill aimed at tackling piracy and all forms of illicit crimes on the nation’s waterways.
“The desire of the government is to ensure cleaner oceans and to eliminate sea piracy, armed robbery and all forms of illegalities within Nigeria’s maritime space which is in line with the 2050 AIMS,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, Professor Charles Ukeje, who delivered a lecture titled, ‘Securing the African Marine Environment for Sustainable Development,’ noted that harnessing and sustainable use of the oceans and seas were the keys to unlocking prosperity for the economy.
He said that this could not be done by NIMASA alone, but by effective planning, which must cut across public and private sectors of the economy on a long-term basis.
Dr. Magnus Chidi Onuoha, who also spoke on the theme: ‘Harnessing Resources from Seas and Oceans for the African Youth Empowerment’ identified people, prosperity and the planet as vital ingredients for sustainable development of the maritime sector in Africa, stressing that the marine environment was key to survival.