Potential of Nigeria’s untapped marine and blue economy 

The establishment of a Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy by President Bola Tinubu when he recently assigned new ministerial portfolios to the members of his cabinet is cheering news and development, for the economic development of Nigeria, if taken seriously and given the adequate resources to function optimally.

It will also be crucial, if Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, the pioneer Minister and his colleagues in that ministry, fully understand the concept and important role of this unique and innovative ministry. 

It is important to first understand what the blue economy encompasses and the great potential that it holds for the country. Nigeria’s exploration of the untapped potential within the blue economy must be established, with a clear understanding of the concept and the immense benefits it holds for the nation.

Additionally, it is crucial to recognize the urgency for Nigeria to diversify its economy, moving away from the heavy dependence on a single commodity, namely crude oil.

Some analysts report that the Blue Economy is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 trillion per year globally. It provides over 30 million jobs and supplies a vital source of protein to over 3 billion people.

The blue economy encompasses all economic activities related to oceans, seas, and other bodies of water. It encompasses various sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, renewable energy, tourism, and mineral resources.

PIA, environmental pollution and host communities

Nigeria, being blessed with an extensive coastline and abundant water resources, possesses a vast potential within the blue economy that remains largely untapped.

By fully embracing the blue economy, Nigeria stands to gain numerous advantages. First, it offers an opportunity for economic diversification, reducing the country’s overreliance on crude oil.

As the global demand for oil fluctuates and environmental concerns grow, Nigeria must seek alternative sources of revenue. The blue economy presents a promising avenue for sustainable economic growth, creating new job opportunities and attracting foreign investments.

The fisheries sector, for instance, holds immense potential for Nigeria’s economic development. With a coastline stretching over 850 kilometres, the country possesses abundant fishery resources. However, due to limited infrastructure, outdated fishing techniques, and inadequate regulatory frameworks, Nigeria’s fisheries sector remains largely underdeveloped.

By investing in modern fishing technologies, improving infrastructure, and implementing effective regulations, Nigeria can significantly increase its fish production, both for domestic consumption and export. This would not only boost the economy but also enhance food security and alleviate poverty in coastal communities.

Cost of governance in the Tinubu administration

Furthermore, Nigeria’s blue economy potential extends to maritime transport. With its strategic location in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria can become a major hub for maritime trade and logistics in West Africa. By developing and modernizing its ports, improving connectivity, and enhancing maritime security, Nigeria can attract more shipping companies, increase trade volumes, and generate substantial revenue. This would not only benefit the country’s economy but also strengthen its position as a regional economic powerhouse.

Renewable energy is another aspect of the blue economy that Nigeria can harness. The country’s vast water resources provide an ideal environment for the development of hydroelectric power and other forms of renewable energy.

In this case, the ministry would have to synchronise with the Ministry of Power. By investing in renewable energy infrastructure, Nigeria can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, mitigate climate change, and provide clean and affordable energy to its citizens. This would not only contribute to sustainable development but also create employment opportunities and attract investments in the renewable energy sector.

Nigeria’s blue economy potential extends to tourism. It would be therefore important that the ministry collaborates and cooperates, with the Ministry of Tourism in order to promote tourism and achieve its full potential.

Setting governance agenda for incoming administration

The country’s beautiful coastlines, diverse marine ecosystems, and rich cultural heritage make it an attractive destination for both domestic and international tourists. By investing in coastal tourism infrastructure, promoting sustainable tourism practices, and preserving marine biodiversity, Nigeria can boost its tourism industry, create jobs, and generate revenue. This would not only contribute to economic growth but also promote cultural exchange and environmental conservation.

Some analysts report that Nigeria’s exploration of the untapped potential within the blue economy holds immense promise for the nation’s development. By diversifying its economy away from overreliance on crude oil, Nigeria can unlock numerous opportunities in sectors such as fisheries, maritime transport, renewable energy, and tourism.

However, to fully harness this potential, Nigeria must invest in modern technologies, improve infrastructure, implement effective regulations, and promote sustainable practices. By doing so, Nigeria can pave the way for sustainable economic growth, job creation, and a brighter future for its citizens.

Iroche is a 2022/2023 Senior Academic Visitor at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, England.

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