Shift focus to blue economy to spur economic growth – Dr. Mbiah


Maritime Consultant and Legal Practitioner Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Mbiah has admonished government to take a critical look at the development of Ghana’s Blue Economy to provide a more permanent economic buffer to the nation’s perennial hardship.

Speaking on the Eye on Port TV programme, Dr. Mbiah said it has become even more imperative for Ghana to look the way of the Blue Economy in the face of the nation’s dilemma with the IMF for a financial bailout.

The seasoned maritime expert, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, said the fortunes that can emerge from strategic use of Ghana’s ocean resources and its associated economy are enormous and capable of catapulting the country on to greater success.

“It is estimated that the ocean and its resources is worth over US$24trillion. In the year 2020, the United States of America had 1.7% of its GDP from its ocean economy – which amounts to over US$360-billion, and it’s about €500billion for the European Union. For these people, they realised long ago the potential of the Blue Economy,” he elucidated.

“If you take Asia, for example, they control about 70% of the production of our ships. Why won’t their economies grow?” he quizzed.

He however clarified that talking about the Blue Economy goes beyond the parochial view of how much resources we can tap from the ocean, as it is also about how much can be created with the ocean in terms of core and ancillary industries.

He cited the success of Tema as a perfect example of establishing ocean resource – that is, the port as a fulcrum of development leading to the creation of a buoyant industrial city.

“Out of Tema Port came the creation of the Fishing Harbour, the fish processing factories, the cocoa processing factory, VALCO and other industries many years ago – which complemented the port’s establishment.”

In that respect, Dr. Mbiah said Ghana can learn from the success of Tema and begin to take the ‘blue cluster; approach.

He said that for example the Atuabo Gas Plant in Nzemaland will become under-utilised if other developments and industries do not spring up in that area. He said the same applies for the Jubilee and TEN fields where oil exploration is being undertaken.

“If you are taking upstream oil explorations, to what extent do we break it down to midstream and downstream? Until you do that, then the benefits that are derivable from the Blue Economy are not derived,” he emphasised.

The Former Chairman of the IMO Legal Committee opined that as the world gradually moves away from dependence on fossil fuels for energy, Ghana should recognise its potentials within the energy sector.

“It is important that we look ahead, so we need to be training our people along these lines so we can tap energy from the sea – either through tidal, wave or wind,” he urged.

Dr. Emmanuel Kofi Mbiah said government should take marine spatial planning very seriously in order to consolidate the ecological, economic and social gains of Ghana’s enviable coastline.

The Former Chief Executive of Ghana Shippers Authority expressed distaste at the state of Accra’s coastal stretch between Korle Lagoon through Jamestown to Abossey-Okai – which he described as “prime” and very good for tourism, “worth more than gold” if strategically transformed.

He said this area can take a cue from the Clarke Quay area in Singapore, which has been transformed into a bona fide holiday spot for tourists.

He said the Korle Lagoon can be dredged, cleaned and rehabilitated to serve as alternate transportation for the citizenry and tourists.

With that will come the ancillary industries such as boat-repairs, hospitality, real-estate and related services.

He said the vibrant tourism agenda government has embarked on in the past few years can be bolstered by a strategic transformation of the city’s coastline.

On how the country can invest in such capital-intensive projects, Dr. Kofi Mbiah said public-private partnerships is the way forward.

“A number of these things I have mentioned are self-financing; therefore if you generate an interest in it and create that which makes it possible to have a public-private partnership in which private capital is brought on board and government provides the environment, it is very possible to have this done.

“If we take the marine drive, for example, I wonder if we have done a proper costing of the marine drive to know its value. Also, have we analysed the kind of synergies that can be drawn from the existence of the marine drive?” he cited.

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