by Suoyo Ekubo
Nigeria is currently hosting the fourth Sub-regional workshop for the promotion of the sustainable development of Africa’s deep-seabed resources in support of Africa’s blue economy strategy in Abuja.
The workshop is hosted by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and organized by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in partnership with the African Union and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
A press release by the International Seabed Authority, revealed that the event which is currently ongoing started on the 5th October and will be drawn in conclusion on 7th October 2022.
The workshop gathered senior representatives from Nigeria and seven other African countries (Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan and Uganda) and over 250 registered participants, including representatives from competent international and regional organizations (United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea), members of the Legal and Technical Commission of ISA, Nigerian ministries and authorities (Nigerian Navy, Ministry of Foreign affairs, Ministry of Transportation, National Boundary Commission, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Environment, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research), non-governmental organizations and former ISA trainees from the African Member States.
In his opening remarks, the ISA Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, noted: “Increasingly, the fundamental role of critical minerals in society is being recognized. Moreover, bodies such as the International Energy Agency have drawn attention to the looming mismatch between the world’s ambitions for energy transition and the availability of these critical minerals. This is also why there is increased focus today on the potential for deep-seabed mineral resources, both on the continental shelf and in the international seabed, to fill this gap.”
“But we need to proceed with caution. At the core of the mandate of the ISA is the dual responsibility to allow the sustainable development of the mineral resources of the deep-seabed for the benefit of all humanity while at the same time ensuring the protection and preservation of the marine environment. We recognize that scientific knowledge of resource potential, environmental conditions and technology is fundamental to decision-making. We also recognize, and it is an equally important part of our mandate under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that scientific knowledge and technology must be made widely available and shared between all States,” he added.
On her part, the High Commissioner of Nigeria to Jamaica and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to ISA, Dr. Maureen P. Tamuno, highlighted the potential benefits of the sustainable use of seabed minerals for the African States, including Nigeria.
She said, “Our gathering here is to explore how the African continent can fully benefit from the sustainable development of Africa’s blue economies through the development of deep-seabed minerals. Without doubt, the potential benefits derivable from the sustainable development of deep-seabed resources could be a major driver for the development of Africa’s economies and growth.”
“As we are aware that deep-seabed mining is a relatively new terrain, it is in this regard that this workshop is expected to raise awareness among the African States about the importance and opportunities associated with the development of Africa’s continental shelf. Furthermore, it is expected to increase stakeholders’ understanding of the regulatory processes related to deep-seabed mineral resources exploration and exploitation, including environmental management,” she said.
Also speaking at the first day of the workshop, Mrs. Anita Krokan, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Abuja, reaffirmed Norway’s support.
She said, “the ADSR project aims to raise awareness of the potential benefits for the African States from deep seabed mining activities and the international legal framework around such activities. Norway is proud to support this project, as it promotes the sustainable development of Africa’s seabed resources and participation in ongoing processes and decisions within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and ISA.”
Meanwhile, Honorable Minister Prince Ademola Adewole Adegoroye, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Federal Republic of Nigeria, stressed that the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides for all nations to explore and exploit mineral resources on the seabed beyond national jurisdiction for the common benefit of humankind under the regulatory framework provided by ISA. It is my firm belief that this workshop will engender thought-provoking discussions and provide implementable ways and guidelines, as well as awaken the consciousness of African States towards evolving strategies for the sustainable development of Africa’s blue economy through the exploitation of deep-seabed minerals.”