Nigerian maritime industry stakeholders are currently at a loss as to why none of its nationals has been named as speaker at the upcoming Africa Blue Economy Forum (ABEF) in Tunis on June 25-26 despite the nation’s strategic position in Africa’s maritime sector.
As gathered by reliable source, the list of confirmed speakers includes government ministers and officials from Gabon, Ghana, Morocco, Somali, Tunisia and Seychelles who are all billed to make presentations on how to raise awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of the Blue Economy.
According to our sources, experts have reacted to the missing of Nigerian government officials on the list of speakers at the forum especially from NIMASA, NPA and NSC.
It is being scooped in some quarters, however, that the conspicuous omission might have been due to the fact that upon Nigeria’s government media campaigns on lifting the Blue Economy drive, there is nothing on ground for other African maritime nations to learn from after all.
Organisers of the forum in a statement made available to select media said “African businesses are being challenged to wake up to the economic, social and environmental power of the Blue Economy”.
“Momentum is gathering for companies based in Africa’s coastal nations to fully recognise and understand the benefits of backing a Blue Economy, which covers a wide range of productive sectors that are crucial for the continent’s sustainable development, including fisheries, aquaculture, transport, energy, trade and tourism as well as extractive industries.
“Research indicates that the Blue Economy has the potential to be a major source of wealth and prosperity for the continent and help advance the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
ABEF said “This year’s ABEF2019 builds on the inaugural event in London last year which explored what the Blue Economy was. This year’s forum aims to take it a stage further and explore how business and government can implement actions that will proactively boost the economic, social and environmental welfare of the continent”.
The Forum averred that the importance of a cohesive strategy that will protect and utilise Africa’s coastal waters cannot be overstated considering array of potentials which include that 70 per cent of Africa’s nations are coastal; 90 per cent of the continent’s imports and exports are done via sea transportation; Africa’s maritime industry is estimated to be worth US$1 trillion per year; The asset value of ocean economy eco-systems is valued at US$24 trillion; and Plastic pollution costs $13 billion per year due to damage caused to marine ecosystems.
The organizers assured that ABEF2019 will deliver a strong focus on business and government collaboration, highlight investment opportunities and reveal environmental and social impact. Discussions will explore the opportunities and innovations in emerging and frontier sectors of the blue economy and how they can help accelerate Africa’s transformation, create jobs, sustain livelihoods and communities and offer low cost but impactful climate change measures.
Leila Ben Hassen, organiser and founder of ABEF2019, noted in a comment that “There needs to be more awareness of the Blue Economy and a realisation of how important it is to the future of Africa. Governments are beginning to understand this and beginning to implement policies but it still needs the private sector to grasp this and to look at how they can work in partnership with governments and other organisations to make this succeed. Collaboration is necessary to make this work and deliver huge benefits for the continent enabling it meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. ABEF2019 will begin to lay the foundations for this collaboration process.”