The Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwaal Gambo has called for Nigeria to rethink towards economic diversification in Nigeria, using hydrography as an enabler.
Admiral Gambo who handed down the proposal during the 2021 world hyrdrographic day said that through hydrography, Nigeria’s inland water ways which connects the Atlantic Ocean through 25 River entrances can be opened for transportation of goods and services from the hinterland to the sea for export, thereby enhancing the country’s economy.
According to the Chief of Naval Staff, effective hydrographic practice will ensure adequate chart coverage of about 84,000 square nautical miles of Nigeria’s littoral waters and ultimately provide up-to-date nautical products to drive Nigeria’s Blue economy project including support for safe conduct of mariner’s activities.
He said that through international cooperation in hydrography with the United Kingdom which dates back to the 81 century, Nigeria has been able to keep its sea lanes of communication open for all forms of maritime activities that support over 96 percent of the country seaborne trade.
Admiral Gambo said: “Further international cooperation with India in 1975 and the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) in 1976, helped Nigeria, particularly its Navy to build human capacity in Hydrography and develop standards for hydrographic survey and charting.
“Through these international cooperation and the Nigerian Navy’s engagements at various time with other hydrographic industry’s players in Nigeria, like the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety.
“Through hydrography, Nigeria’s inland waters, which connect the Atlantic Ocean via over 25 river entrances, can be opened for transportation of goods and services for export toward enhancing Nigeria’s economy.
“Additionally, effective hydrographic practice will ensure adequate chart coverage of about 84,000 square nautical miles of Nigeria’s territorial waters.
“This will ultimately provide up-to-date products to drive Nigeria’s Blue Economy Project including support for safe conduct of mariner’s activities,” he said.
Gambo said that in spite of the limitations imposed by COVID-19 pandemic, professionals and stakeholders alike were still able to interact to discuss pertinent issues like Hydrography, adding that
that hydrographic applications have increasingly shifted from the safety of navigation for marine transport to other activities that are facilitating sustainable use of the ocean for economic growth.
He said: “These include offshore wind farming, coastal zone management, blue economy, as well as offshore exploration and exploitation of mineral resources.
“These activities require a great deal of both national and international collaborations at various stages for maximum benefits to be derived from.
“That is why I consider this year’s World Hydrography Day, which, marked the 100 years of international cooperation in Hydrography as apt for Nigeria.”
Gambo said that this called for more purposeful international and national cooperation among all stakeholders in the field of hydrography, noting that, “Through international cooperation in Hydrography with the UK, Nigeria has been able to sustain all forms of maritime activities that support over 96 percent of Nigeria’s seaborne trade.
“Further international cooperation with India and the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) have helped Nigeria, particularly the Navy to build human capacity in Hydrography.
“It has also helped to develop standards for hydrographic survey and charting,” he said.
The CNS said that these international cooperations and the Nigerian Navy’s engagements with other hydrographic industry’s players in Nigeria enabled the country produce its indigenous navigational charts and nautical publications in 2019.
“This feat has placed Nigeria on the international map of chart producing nations.
“There are two paper charts and three calls of Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) indigenously produced by the Nigerian Navy, which are currently supporting safety of Navigation in Nigerian waters,” he said.
Gambo said that the recent addition of the state of the art 60-meter Hydrographic Survey Vessel, NNS LANA, to the Nigerian Navy’s inventory would improve hydrographic service delivery to mariners within Nigerian waters.
“Already, discussions are ongoing with the Nippon Foundation/GEBCO for Nigeria’s participation in the Seabed 2030 Project.
“This is aimed at facilitating Nigeria’s fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which deals with sustainable use of the oceans, sea and marine resources,” he said.
The naval chief said that the force and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) are in partnership for the opening up of the nation’s inland waters for improved maritime business, through hydrographic survey and charting.