A Yuletide Reflection on Nigeria’s Blue Economy By Omoniyi Ibietan,Phd

I was at Gordon Resort Hotel by McCarthy Beach before, during, and after Christmas, in giving expression to my annual personal retreat. For reasons connected to the global economic challenges, I had no White Christmas, but there’s so much to thank God for.


So, I seized the opportunity of the tranquillity of the Ethiope River’s bank at Urhuoka, Abraka, where a flourishing economy birthed more than a decade ago with the establishment of Gordon Resort Hotel by McCarthy Beach. The Ethiope River is such a rare, antiseptically clean water. I stood by the bank at the McCarthy Beach and looked down to behold the depth and I could see the clean white sands.


Ethiope is Nigeria’s deepest inland waters. It is also one of Africa’s deepest inland waters and a flagship blue/green body of waters. Unlike the Nile, Congo and Niger rivers, Ethiope took life and its course from a spring beneath a silk cotton tree in Umuaja, also in Delta State, and streams through Abraka, Sapele and beyond to empty into Benin River. The latter constituting a branch of the Niger River, and Niger itself bifurcating at some point to form Forcados River and River Nun, and all flowing into the Gulf of Guinea.


Beyond the support to life and humanity, I have been fascinated by body of waters after a fair defeat of childhood hydrophobia, but Nigeria’s new vision to harness and harvest the blue economy opened a new vista of learning and reflection to me while I was at Gordon/McCarthy resort.


Blue economy, in the conception of the European Union, relates to all activities connected to oceans, seas, and coasts. The blue economy sector in Nigeria is valued at yielding $70 billion annually, which is slightly short of the estimated investment in the telecom sector in nearly three decades. Indeed, I saw the possibilities of Nigeria’s blue economy again while at McCarthy Beach, where people engaged in legitimate economic activities of many kinds.


However, the potential of the sector is undermined by infrastructure deficit. For instance, going to McCarthy Beach, unarguably one of Nigeria’s largest and promising beaches, can be tortuous after a flight to Warri. The hitherto 40-minute drive from Warri to Abraka now takes over two hours. The best route, ostensibly a federal road, through Eku, is practically cut off, so drivers take a detour just before Eku because the popular route via EKu is no longer motorable.


The popular narrative is that the federal government directed the state government not to rehabilitate federal roads, perhaps because of the tendency of state governments to inflate the cost when requesting a refund from the federal government. Whatever gave rise to the abandonment of the road from Warri through Eku to Abraka needs to be resolved quickly. The road needs urgent repairs in the interest of the people and the gamut of the value chain benefits connected to the blue economy and related activities of other sectors interacting with the blue economy sector with evident multiplier effects.


The other infrastructural matters include security and power/energy (the elephants in the room). Yet, science has proved that there are legions and varieties of green energy sources in our clime, strains of which are derivable from blue resources. So, we can make a good turn to leverage integration.


I don’t know the pattern and tempo of strategy set for the blue economy sector, but the prospects are undermined by infrastructure challenges. The good thing is that there is a new vision by state actors, and stakeholders should be rallied to achieve the vision in the manner we are witnessing in the Communications and Digital Economy Sector.


May Nigeria flourish.


Have a blessed, blissful year, friends.

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