March 2024

Quick Bite

With a coastline measuring nearly 853 km and 25% of Nigerian states located on the banks of the Atlantic, a dedicated blue economy strategy is long overdue

The Blue Economy: Beyond Colorful Words


The Blue Economy: Beyond Colorful Words 

The phrase has been thrown around a lot. However, the blue economy is more than a political soundbite. At more than $2 trillion a year, it would rank as the 11th largest economy in the world, if it was a country. The opportunities in this sector, both traditional and emerging, are increasingly recognized, including in Africa. This note explores the potentials of the blue economy in Nigeria and similar countries, and what must be done to harness the said potentials. 

What really is the blue economy? 

Think of the blue waters of the ocean, and you may be right. The blue economy encompasses traditional and emerging activities carried out in water bodies, including the seas and oceans, as well as rivers and lakes. These include traditional activities such as fishing, marine transport, and tourism. It also includes fast-growing sectors such as offshore renewable energy, deep sea mining, marine biotechnology, and subsea communications among others. 

The blue economy has grown significantly albeit at varying rates in different parts of the world. Global maritime trade remains the most visible face of the blue economy, with 90% of goods shipped by sea at a value of $14 trillion per year. Similarly, the global fishing market continues to grow and is currently estimated at over $300 billion per year, with its value expected to reach $700bn by 2030. Beyond the traditional sectors, emerging sectors have shown impressive growth rates. The offshore renewable energy sector (primarily comprising offshore wind farms) was valued at over $33bn in 2022. It is expected to reach $170bn in 2032, growing at an annual rate of 18.5%. Other subsectors continue to record impressive growth. 

The Blue Economy in Nigeria 

The phrase has increasingly gained prominence, culminating in the creation of a ministry under the current government; the Ministry for Marine and Blue Economy. Nigeria’s desire to grow the national economy, increase job opportunities, and reduce excessive reliance on oil exports helped spur the creation of the ministry. Furthermore, with a coastline measuring nearly 853 km and 25% of Nigerian states located on the banks of the Atlantic, a dedicated blue economy strategy is long overdue. 

Opportunities abound in both traditional and emerging subsectors of the blue economy for Nigeria. From renewable energy generation (to plug the country’s large deficit), through marine fisheries production (to plug Nigeria’s huge fish import bill), to opportunities in deep sea mining and offshore exploration, the country could tap from the $2 trillion global blue economy. So far, the ministry is yet to develop a comprehensive blue economy policy that captures the opportunities and challenges in the sector. And there are challenges. 

Source: World Atlas

Foremost, insecurity in Nigeria’s coastal areas remains a key impediment. It negatively impacts everything from investment in offshore renewable energy to a competitive sale of fishing rights to local and/or foreign companies. While the scourge of oil theft seems to have slightly declined in the past months, there is no denying the need for a comprehensive maritime security strategy in order to harness the potential of the blue economy. 

Secondly, water pollution, especially plastic pollution, remains a key challenge. Nigeria currently ranks among the top twenty contributors to ocean pollution, with an estimated 88% of plastics produced in Nigeria not recycled. Many of these end up in rivers, lakes, and the littoral waters of Nigeria’s ocean. This is bad for multiple subsectors of the blue economy, including tourism and fisheries. Thus, any attempt at harnessing the potential of the sector will require a deliberate effort to clean up our waters. 


The blue economy could be a key option for Nigeria’s longstanding quest to diversify the economy, generate jobs, and increase revenue. The country’s extensive coastline, increasing global demand for rate undersea metals, and increasing availability of financing for key blue economy subsectors create the right conditions for prioritizing this part of the national economy. The creation of a ministry is a good first step. However, the ministry must step up to address key challenges and develop a comprehensive blue economy strategy for the country. 

Our team possesses extensive knowledge in the sector and is available to provide consulting services to investors and government bodies. Contact us today.

Crystal Ball

Following significant protests and moments of uncertainty, the Senegalese elections were held. The opposition candidate, Bassirou Faye, emerged as president. There are high hopes. We are closely following developments as the new government prepares to take over.

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