Following the first commercially viable discovery of crude oil at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta in 1956, Nigeria has placed heavy dependence on oil as a tool for its economic activities. Nigeria majorly finances its economic operations from the proceeds derived from the ultimate source of income i.e. Crude oil. In light of the manifest dangers of this orthodox way of maintaining the economy, economists have earmarked certain sectors requiring development which are capable of diversifying the economy and neutralizing the Country from total reliance on crude oil. Key among the recommendations of economists is the urgent need to properly tap into the water (blue economy) as a booster of the Nation’s GDP.
Thus, in a bid to unlock the full potential of Nigeria which possesses the geographical advantages of coastline and inland waterways with a water area of 5,019 sq miles (13,000 sq km), there will be a need to sustain development of our “blue economy” through the enactment of policies and legislation facilitating development in that sector. A promising way to do this is through PPP and the Federal government seems to have embraced the idea in other sectors such as the Transportation sector. For example, President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed the Executive Order No. 7 of 2019 aimed at developing and delivering Public Private Partnerships (PPP) with notable investors to bridge the road infrastructure gap in the transportation sector of the country.
WHAT IS THE BLUE ECONOMY?
The Blue Economy
is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic
growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of marine and coastal ecosystem.
The concept of Blue Economy is premised on the utilization of coastal and ocean resources and services in a ground-breaking and commercial manner, to guarantee pecuniary benefits to nations and communities living within the suburbs of these resources.
Stated below are a few of the areas within the maritime sector where a viable blue economy can be achieved;
- Maritime transports
- Fisheries and Aquaculture
- Renewable energy
- Tourism and Hospitality
- Waste Management
- Logistics: Ports and Shipping
- Island development etc.
Public private partnership has been defined as arrangements between governments and private sector entities for the purpose of providing public infrastructure, community facilities and related services. Such partnerships are characterized by the sharing of investment, risk, responsibility and reward between the partner.
PPP is perfect for the blue economy due to the urgent need for both private and public institutions to tackle the deficits and shortages of attractive institutions which are capable of bringing forth more income to the Nation.
WHY PPP IS DESIRABLE IN NIGERIA’S BLUE ECONOMY?
The development of infrastructure is arguably the single most important factor for economic development as infrastructural facilities are the wheels on which any economy runs and it provides the enabling environment for sustained economic growth and wealth.
In Nigeria, it is unarguable that the country suffers from a huge deficit of maritime based institution/infrastructure which are capable of boosting the Nation’s economy. What is more is that there is little to no legislation to facilitate development in this area.
The rationales for proposing a PPP approach in developing the blue economy are as follows;
- The PPP is capable of affording the maritime public sector with the opportunity to attract additional financial resources through the involvement of the private sector, thereby reducing pressure on the maritime public sector borrowing and facilitating closer control of capital-spending budgets. This itself is a solution to the projection that the Federal Government would need to make over N10billion investment annually for over 10 years to address the current infrastructural deficit in the port system, an amount the government might not easily raise given the economic realities at this time.
- The PPP concept is capable of ensuring higher quality and timely provision of public services as against the regular slow attitudes of public service. Thus, it is a fast track model to projects completion and a slowdown technique to curb delays on infrastructure projects.
- Adopting PPP in the maritime sector helps risks to be fully appraised early on to determine project feasibility. In this sense, the private partner can serve as a check against unrealistic government promises or expectations.
Comments & Conclusion
- By increasing the efficiency of the government's investment, PPP allows government funds to be redirected to other important socioeconomic areas.
- PPP ensures value for money for the taxpayer through optimal risk transfer and risk management.
- There should be a policy/executive order by the Federal government and states with the coastal and inland waterways advantages favouring PPP in the Blue Economy.
- There should be inter-governmental agencies cooperation targeted at ensuring collaboration with the private sector. Further to the above, agencies like NIMASA, NPA, Nigerian Shippers Council, NIWA, Nigerian Navy inter-alia should work towards a matrimony in a bid to collaborate with the private sector for the continuous development of the maritime sector.
- In a bid to comply strictly with the provisions of the Coastal and inland shipping (Cabotage) act, Public agencies and members of the private sector should come together to procure bourgeoisie national watercrafts (vessels, ships etc.) for the encouragement of the maritime transportation which is capable of increasing the internally generated revenue of the Nation.