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Sierra Leone News: Potential of the blue economy mapped out

“70% of the world is covered with water…” 80% of the world’s population lives close to the sea. 90 to 95% of the world’s trade is transported through the sea and 80% of Sierra Leone’s protein comes from the sea. However, despite the sea’s significant contribution to our livelihood, little or no effort is made towards maritime domain protection, explained the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) lead consultant for the development of a national maritime strategy for Sierra Leone, Ian Ralby.
He noted, it is that simple “no shipping – no shopping” and if the maritime domain is not protected, it would affect not only businesses but Sierra Leone’s major source of protein as well and “people would go hungry.”
This is why, Ralby explained, “the development of a national maritime strategy for Sierra Leone… is essential as it would help Sierra Leone to realize her full potential of the maritime domain.”
US Defense attaché, Lt Col Kimberly Lee explained, “Without a maritime strategy we do not know where we are going and how to get there.” She emphasized that a national maritime strategy for Sierra Leone would serve as a road map.
Furthermore, she pointed out that security for maritime domain is challenging because it is capital intensive and in most cases government do not often see the immediate reward in such investments.
UNDP Country Director, Samuel Doe commented that a national maritime strategy for Sierra Leone would seek to balance between security emphasis and economic emphasis. Also noting that it would document would help in redirecting economic interest from land to sea.
Head of Research and Project Unit, Simon O.D. Johnson, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) remarked, the “consultative meeting is more appropriate at this time when Sierra Leone is taking steps to diversify its economy.” The total economic benefits of areas like the blue economy are yet to be fully assessed.
However, Deputy Executive Director Maritime, Alphious Cole, disclosed that the idea that Sierra Leone must have a National Maritime Strategy is a step in the fulfillment and implementation of the binding recommendations in the Yaounde Code of Conduct concerning the repression of Piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activities by member States in the Gulf of Guinea.
Today a consultative forum, which was organized by the SLMA for the development of the Sierra Leone Maritime Strategy, would end with the completion of a national maritime strategy document making Sierra Leone the first country in the Gulf of Guinea to have such a strategic framework on maritime.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Thursday December 14, 2017

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