By Frank Oshanugor
Nigeria’s Defence Minister, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) has called on African Navies to hinge on strong collaborative efforts, resource sharing, developing expertise, increased funding and efficient use of technology to bring about improved ocean governance for robust blue economy in the continent.
General Magashi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, Mr Musa Istifanus, made this call during the closing ceremony of the first virtual Sea Power for Africa Symposium held at the Naval Headquarters, Abuja on Thursday.
The Minister stated that deliberations in the Symposium revealed some critical issues confronting effective ocean governance such as gaps in the Maritime Domain Awareness infrastructures in various regions, inadequate maritime legal provisions as well as weak resource sharing framework for improved hydrographic capabilities.
These limitations, he said would imperatively need to be addressed in order to improve the utility of Maritime Domain Awareness infrastructures. He further identified with the position that the future of blue economy in Africa is intricately tied to effective ocean governance which is achievable through robustly integrated Maritime Domain Awareness infrastructure.
While enjoining participants to gear up efforts towards effectively implementing the resolutions which emanated from intense deliberations during the Symposium, General Magashi affirmed that the objectives of the Seapower for Africa Symposium 2021 have been realized.
Furthermore, the Minister brought to fore the need for political leaders to place high premium on the maritime sector and relevant stakeholders in order to enhance cooperation in the management of Africa’s maritime spaces.
Similarly, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo while delivering the vote of thanks stated that Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) infrastructure constitutes a veritable force multiplier which offers naval forces invaluable leverage that enables them optimize the deployment of their platforms to effectively secure their maritime environment for sustainable economic development.
Admiral Gambo said it has been three days of positive and fruitful deliberations on the theme of the Symposium titled “Integrating Africa’s Maritime Domain Awareness Infrastructure towards Effective Ocean Governance.”
This he said has also led to well informed decisions from participants culminating in a robust Communiqué as well as setting new tasks for all participating countries. The CNS also appreciated the depth of intellectual and professional ethos exhibited during the deliberations, especially on issues bordering on collective efforts towards improving ocean governance for the growth of blue economy in Africa.
The CNS affirmed that the proceedings in the Symposium have identified viable concepts and lines of action to be taken some of which include the development of framework for resource sharing through joint utilization of survey infrastructure and manpower towards optimizing our hydrographic capabilities, the integration of sovereign camera surveillance and unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities into the MDA architecture as well as the adoption of Ship Rider Agreement.
Others include the need to facilitate the development of a mechanism to detect and prosecute cases of toxic waste dumping in African maritime space as well as the need to sensitize political leaders to formulate robust and all-encompassing national maritime strategy to improve ocean governance. The implementation of these lines of action he said would clearly invigorate the determination to emplace a safe, secure and enabling maritime environment for socio-economic activities to thrive.
The CNS appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari, for his unwavering support to the Nigerian Navy and for creating the enabling ambience for the conduct of this Symposium. He extended appreciation to resource persons across the continent comprising the heads of navies, heads of government agencies, representatives of foreign missions, guest speakers, erudite panel of discussants as well as vibrant local and international participants.
Admiral Gambo expressed conviction that the outcome of the Symposium would contribute in no small measure to the improvement of ocean governance towards fostering the rapid growth of blue economy in Africa in the coming years.
It could be recalled that the Sea Power for Africa Symposium commenced virtually on 30 November 2021 at the Naval Headquarters Abuja. The Symposium offered a veritable platform for African maritime nations to congregate and cooperate to address maritime challenges.