According to Bashir Jamoh, the director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in order for Nigeria to tap into the vast opportunities presented by the global Blue Economy, which is valued at $2.5 trillion, it is crucial for the country to prioritize and maintain standard maritime security. This will create a conducive environment for businesses and investments to flourish. He stated this in his address in Lagos on Monday at the opening of a 5-day training workshop for journalists and media practitioners organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in collaboration with NIMASA.
Jamoh said the blue economy presents a number of opportunities that extend beyond shipping and the import and export trade. These potential include, amongst other things, fishery, tourism, aquaculture, and wind energy. He believed that if Nigeria maintains a high level maritime security, then the country would not only have a lesser probability of struggling to tap into the potential $2.5 trillion, but it will also face no hurdles to benefit from the estimated 350 million global job opportunities that are available in the blue economy.
Media has a role of correcting maritime misinformation.
He stated that Nigeria efforts so far to improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea have been worthwhile, and now only needs to keep up the momentum. Jamoh also mentioned that the federal government has spent a lot of money on infrastructure through the Deep Blue Project to address the waterway’s insecurity. The establishment of the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry, which will concentrate on expanding the sector in order to reduce Nigeria reliance on the oil industry, is just the beginning of the country’s efforts to facilitate good governance, which encompasses ocean governance and policy intervention.
Nigeria needs appropriate legislation and regulations to take advantage of the blue economy. Nevertheless, he stressed that none of that would be possible without the help of the media. The media has a pivotal role to play in restoring investor confidence in Nigeria by correcting misinformation about the country’s maritime security and that of the Gulf of Guinea region, drawing attention to the opportunities present in the country, and paving the way for the establishment of a good judiciary system.
Stakeholders have varied perspectives on the region sea lanes.
Speaking earlier, Kwesi Aning, a professor and one of the facilitators, mentioned that over the past decade, there has been a growing focus in the mainstream media coverage on various issues that pose threats to safety and security in the maritime domain. These issues include maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, marine pollution, and the climate crisis. Most of the Gulf of Guinea coastal states rely largely on revenue from marine-based commerce.
As Jamoh pointed out, the various national and international stakeholders have varied perspectives on the significance of the region’s sea lanes and the meaning of incidents involving attacks on commercial vessels, oil installations, fishing vessels, and marine pollutants. As an example, the rising expense of doing business for African merchants who rely on maritime transport is a direct result of the increased premiums charged for international shipping insurance due to the increased risk of piracy related to insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea waters.
Maritime piracy incidents have reduced due to Nigeria efforts.
IUU fishing, he said, may make those that depend on the sea for a living in the coastal areas of the Gulf of Guinea loose interest in fishing. Unemployment rates in coastal areas may rise as a result of such changes, he said, and idle young people may become more likely to engage in maritime-based criminal activity. The pioneering efforts of Nigeria through NIMASA and Navy have resulted in a decrease in maritime piracy incidents since 2021, changing the narrative of maritime security in the area. He however, urged the media to regularly present positive reports of maritime security in the region.