BY JOYCE OKOLI

The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio have called on African countries to take advantage of the blue economy for sustainable development of their countries.

Addressing participants during the 3rd Annual symposium of African Marine Environment Sustainability Initiative (AFMESI) with the theme “African Blue Economy Which Way To Go?” which held in Lagos recently, Senator Gbemisola Saraki stated that the blue economy is relevant to all countries and can be applied on various scales from local, national to global levels.

The Minister who was represented by Chief Ofie Adams, a Deputy Director at the Ministry of Transportation said the theme of the symposium comes at a critical moment when the continent is at a crossroad regarding keeping her oceans, seas and the entire marine ecosystem safe, healthy and sustainable.

She explained that countries of the African Continent, including Nigeria, are an integral, important part of the entire world marine ecosystem.

Saraki said that 38 of Africa 54 countries are coastal with six islands whose combined maritime industry is estimated to worth $1 trillion per year.

She noted that to achieve industry potentials, actionable policies formulated by African experts, governments and other stakeholders must be founded on trusted and diversified knowledge base, supported and complemented with management and development of resources that help inspire and support innovation to achieve a deserved lead position in blue economy.

She added that there is residual negative impact of environmental and ecosystems degradation on human progress, development and economic activities as such human engagements must now be carried out without endangering or destroying the ecosystem.

She urged experts of science and technology to formulate policies that would support the cause.

On his part, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, noted that despite the potential benefits and opportunities associated with the aquatic resources, the resources of the oceans and inland waters are under serious threats due largely to neglect as well as climate change and extreme weather situation.

The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Babayo Ardo, noted the impact of pollution arising mainly from effects of overexploitation, exploration and exploitation of the resources especially petroleum product including the issue of insecurity.

The minister challenged the AU member States to contribute to the development of the blue economy which is projected to generate about $296billion with 49 million jobs.

Akpabio said by 2030 the figures will be $405 billion with 57 million jobs while in 2063 estimates would be $576 billion of value created and 78 million of jobs.

President AFMESI, Dr Felicia Mogo earlier in her opening remarks, stated that AFMESI symposium provides platforms for reevaluating the marine environment of Africa in terms of potential and stressors adding that AFMESI recommends best strategies to exploration for this resources for the benefit of mankind and preservation of the environment itself.

“So, while doing this we also try to see who to write all the resolutions and the appropriate implementations tools to the benefits of coastal boundaries and their landlocked neighbours across Africa, thereby pointing at growth that not just consider only economic benefits but that starts on social accountability and ensure inclusiveness in calculating Gross Domestic Product(GDP)”.

“Political participation is a key factor for the realization policy for marine sustainability and sustainable blue economy paradigm. This year symposium provides an opportunity for stakeholders to present and share knowledge on several environmental issues related to the future of our marine environment”.

“AFMESI is seeking implementation of measures to securing Gulf of Guinea, inter-regional corporation, the role of science in governing our ocean amongst others. AFEMSI believes that at the end of this symposium, actionable communique that would come out will spur restoration of African prosperity”, she stated.

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