• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Setting sail for a brighter future: Why the Marine and Blue Economy Policy matters

Setting sail for a brighter future: Why the Marine and Blue Economy Policy matters

For too long, Nigeria’s vast coastline has been a sleeping giant, brimming with untapped potential. Generations have dreamt of transforming our waters into engines of economic prosperity, yet progress has been frustratingly slow. However, a recent announcement by the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, at the Maritime Conference organised by BusinessDay Media Limited, has ignited a flicker of hope. The unveiling of a comprehensive Marine and Blue Economy National Policy feels like a turning point—a chance to harness the power of our maritime resources and build a brighter future for all Nigerians.

In a future where our coastline thrives, ports teeming with international trade, innovative industries responsibly extracting resources, and coastal communities prosper, this is the vision Minister Oyetola paints. It speaks to the heart of every Nigerian yearning for a more secure and prosperous future. The potential is undeniable. Millions of jobs, significant contributions to GDP, and a revitalised national revenue stream are all within reach. “The Marine and Blue Economy Ministry is estimated to contribute significantly to the country’s GDP, increase national revenue, and potentially create millions of jobs directly and indirectly,” he remarked. This vision resonates with every Nigerian seeking economic stability and growth.

“Increased revenue in just the first quarter signifies a crackdown on inefficiency and a proactive approach to unlocking new opportunities.”

The creation of a dedicated ministry itself is a powerful symbol of the government’s commitment. But the Minister is not just shuffling paperwork; he is actively steering the ship towards a more profitable horizon. Early signs are promising. Increased revenue in just the first quarter signifies a crackdown on inefficiency and a proactive approach to unlocking new opportunities.

This is not a one-man show, however. The Ministry’s focus on fostering investor confidence and streamlining bureaucratic hurdles is a welcome change. Initiatives like the National Single Window System are steps in the right direction, making Nigeria a more attractive destination for international trade.

But the real magic lies in collaboration. The recent maritime conference served as a vital platform for stakeholders to come together and chart a course forward. The current administration’s recognition of this collective effort is refreshing. Building a maritime powerhouse requires the expertise and investment of the private sector, and public-private partnerships hold immense potential for port modernization and infrastructure development.

“To bridge the infrastructure gap, the government is cultivating the public-private partnership (PPP) model to attract private sector investment for the modernization of ports. This collaborative approach ensures sustainable funding and expedites project implementation,” he said.

Challenges remain, of course. Navigating these waters won’t be smooth sailing. But the Ministry’s commitment to streamlining port operations, improving accessibility, and bridging the infrastructure gap demonstrates a clear understanding of the hurdles we face. The ambition to reach the top three on the PEBEC ranking is a testament to this drive for excellence.

“The Ministry is also fast-tracking work to finalise the implementation of a Port Community System towards automating port processes, the implementation of the International Cargo Tracking Note, truck call-up systems, and the procurement of port scanners through the Nigeria Customs Service, all of which are geared towards ensuring operational efficiency at the ports.

“We are also interfacing with the Federal Ministry of Works to rehabilitate access roads to the ports while the Federal Ministry of Transportation is assisting in connecting the rail lines to the ports to reduce congestion and facilitate trade,” Oyetola said.

He listed the possible areas of investment to include port modernisation, channel dredging, automation, inland waterways development, ferry and cruise services, the deployment of modern cargo handling equipment, terminal operation, and technological innovation, among others.

He also said that there are ongoing efforts to galvanise investments to upgrade existing and construct new infrastructure towards enhancing capacity and accessibility at the ports.

“The Ministry is promoting the development of inland dry ports at strategic locations across the country, which will have a combined capacity of about 165,000 twenty-foot equivalent units and help to decongest our seaports,” he added.

As we approach the end of 2024, the promise of a robust national policy framework hangs heavy in the air, not just as a government document but as a beacon of hope for coastal communities and all Nigerians alike. Let’s embrace this call for continued collaboration. Together, we can turn the tide on years of underutilised potential. By actively engaging with the policy’s implementation, we can unlock the immense potential of our marine and blue economies.

For a moment, kindly envision the bustling ports teeming with activity, the creation of sustainable jobs that empower coastal communities, and the innovation that propels us towards a future brimming with economic prosperity and responsible development.

Overall, this is not just a policy; it is an opportunity to rewrite our maritime narrative. Let’s set sail together, with unwavering commitment and a shared vision for a brighter blue horizon.