President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has urged African leaders on the need to prioritize the Blue Economy stating that the blue economy holds the key to Africa’s prosperity.
Tinubu while speaking on Monday at the opening of the 43rd Annual Council meeting of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA), underlined the critical role of the Blue Economy in the collective prosperity of African nations, emphasizing that the sector holds immense potential for the entire continent.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Marine and Blue economy; Adegboyega Oyetola noted that Africa’s Blue Economy presents the continent with untapped opportunities for growth and development.
He said, “We must acknowledge the maritime sector as a central driver for the sustainable development of our nations”, he remarked
Tinubu said the countries were duty bound by posterity to unite and deploy their resources together and solve issues affecting socio-economic progress and development.
He pointed out that the ongoing discussions in Nigeria and other African countries on the importance of investing in infrastructure and equipment would support trade facilitation.
Tinubu added that meetings such as this would put the issues in proper perspectives and serve as an avenue for generation of ideas that would aid national governments to formulate effective policies.
“My administration is especially interested in the maritime industry; this is why we created the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in the first instance.
“Even though we have physical national boundaries that separate us, the waters are natural source of connectivity and they seem like a subtle providential message that we must work together for the good of all our countries.
“This is why there could be no better time than now to hold this conference,” he said.
He noted that the theme of the conference was a testament of the determination of the organisers to collectively seek sustainable solutions to the challenges affecting port operations in the continent.
“After the issues of adequate security and transparency, the one other important factor deciding the competitiveness of ports is the seamlessness and efficiency with which cargoes are evacuated from the ports.
“This without doubt is an area in which port operations in Africa needs a lot of intervention,” he said.
He also stressed the need for infusion of information technology into public management to aid transparency and ease business processes.
The President went on to stress the interconnectedness of African countries through their maritime endowments even as he discussed the formation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, which highlights the Nigerian government’s commitment to unlocking the potential of the Blue Economy.
He pointed out that, despite national boundaries, the waters serve as a natural source of connectivity, emphasizing that the region’s shared destiny and challenges require collaborative efforts.
The President also underlined the significance of technological advancement in the sector. He emphasized that automation is crucial for maintaining the competitiveness of ports in the global maritime industry. He highlighted the importance of the Port Community System, which serves as a precursor to the implementation of the National Single Window, as essential tools in streamlining port operations.
“As a government that believes in the necessity of infusing information technology into public management to aid transparency and ease business processes, we are giving the Nigerian Ports Authority all the backing necessary to fast track the operationalization of the Port Community System”, he declared.
“This is a precursor to the implementation of the National Single Window because we are persuaded that full automation is the only way to go if we plan to remain competitive in the global maritime industry,” he said.
He further pointed out that full automation is the way forward if African ports are to remain competitive on the international stage, echoing the sentiment that seamless and efficient cargo handling is vital for port competitiveness in the African context.
Speaking earlier, Mr Mohammed Bello Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, while speaking earlier also echoed President Tinubu’s call for regional cooperation in the maritime sector.
He noted that the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are substantial while urging African leaders to work together to eliminate trade barriers and harness these opportunities for the collective prosperity of respective national economies
According to him, “the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are substantial. We must work together to eliminate trade barriers and harness these opportunities for the collective prosperity of our respective national economies,” Mr. Koko stated.
“Thus, given the increasing realisation of the leverage that economic cooperation confers in the international arena, we will be doing great disservice to ourselves if we fail to maximise this unity through the cooperation of our ports.
“I am convinced this conference will equip us to safely midwife for the benefit of our respective national economies with domino effect on the economy of the sub-region if our ports cooperate.
“As an organisation that appreciates the catalytic role of PMAWCA in promoting ports’ cooperation, the NPA will continue to embrace partnerships and support policies and actions arising from the insightful policy-shaping meetings and technical sessions,” he said.
He praised the PMAWCA for its role in promoting ports’ cooperation and expressed the Nigerian Ports Authority’s commitment to partnership and support for policies and action steps that will be discussed during the conference.
He added that the 43rd PMAWCA conference, with its focus on the Blue Economy and the significance of regional cooperation, has set the stage for a crucial dialogue on how African nations can unlock the potential of their maritime resources.
He urged delegates from West and Central African countries, alongside international observers, to exchange ideas and insights, with the shared goal of enhancing trade facilitation and spurring economic growth in the region.
Speaking earlier, the President of PMAWCA, Martin Boguikouma, said, “PMAWCA has become the main pillar for the development of ports in the region. The meeting will focus on the role of the ports in enhancing AfCFTA. The meeting will come with a result that will help the port to boost”, he concluded.
Also speaking, the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, pointed out that the platform would provide the opportunity to communicate across board.
“Trade is very central to development and prosperity which will lead to peace and security.
“Implementation of AfCFTA resonates with policy trust of President Bola Tinubu who has identified that port state is critical to his agenda to attract investment.
“All critical element that will make the meeting memorable is here,” he said.