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World Hydrography Day: FG Pledges Sustained Investment In Survey Technology As Navy Promises Safe Region For Blue Economy

The federal government has pledged a sustained commitment to invest in developing the nation’s Hydrographic capacity by acquiring state-of-the-art survey technology to promote the prosperity of the nation’s maritime environment.

The Minister of Defence, Mohammed Abubakar disclosed this while giving his remarks at an event held to commemorate the annual World Hydrography Day (WHD) on June 21, in Abuja.

The theme: “Hydrography Information – Enhancing Safety, Efficiency and Sustainability in Maritime Activities”, according to the minister, is essential for enhancing maritime safety through accurate and up-to-date nautical charts.

This chart, expected in real-time, will assist relevant agencies in the maritime domain navigate the nation’s water safely, avoiding hazards and reducing the rate of accidents.

This year’s WHD is coming at a time when efforts are on harnessing blue economy potentials for prosperity in Africa, with each passing year reflecting the evolving challenges and opportunities in the field of hydrography.

Hydrography is the science of measuring and describing the physical features of water bodies and their adjacent coastal areas. The discipline is crucial for safe navigation, marine resource management, and environmental protection.

Speaking at the event, the minister said that the Hydrography information will sustainably improve the management of maritime resources through the support of the conservation of maritime inhabitants, monitoring erosion and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Abubakar further noted that by optimising shipping routes and improving port management through Hydrography, the National Hydrographic Agency (NHA) will enhance the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime operation.

He said, “This will lead to reduced operational cost, increased competitiveness and new economic opportunity. In doing so, the national hydrography agency will contribute to the realisation of the Nation’s Blue economy aspiration, creating jobs and fostering economic prosperity for all Nigerians.

“As we embark on this new chapter, I assure you that the federal government will continue to invest in the development of Nigerian Hydrography capacity, this will include the acquisition of the State of the Act survey technology, building a skilled workforce and fostering international partnerships through those efforts we will ensure that the National Hydrography Agency is Equipped to meet its mandate and support drive and ambition.”

Also, the Chief Of Navy Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla appreciated the collaboration of the relevant agencies in the maritime sector for their contributions to the operationalisation of NHA to actualise a sustained blue economy.

The NHA, established by an Act of the National Assembly in February 2022, has recorded the launch of the revised National Charting Scheme, the maiden edition of the Catalogue of Nigerian Charts.

The chart, which is the first locally produced in West Africa to enhance accessibility to maritime resources, addresses previous gaps while ensuring greater precision and comprehension of the nation’s navigational products.

Although Nigeria is lagging in the quality production of accurate data, particularly in the International Hydrographic sector, Ogalla said an optimised investment in hydrography operation in Nigeria can eradicate poverty.

“The African Integrated Maritime strategy recognised that the eradication of poverty in Africa depends on the ability of West African nations to exploit the resources in the maritime environment.

“The marine environment is the only and vital way which can get ourselves out of poverty, and that is the reason I believe that for us to be able to do that, we must have adequate hydrographic data,” Ogalla said.

He, however, highlighted his expectations from the Agency to enhance the prosperity of the blue economy to include fashioning better ways of improving the quality of surveys, covering existing gaps and resolving improper charting issues.

He said, “I believe that with the agency, we should not be able to produce charts covering our waters but to produce that which will cover that of the West Africa Sub-region and even beyond.

“We also expect the agency to play a key role in terms of reducing the issue of capital flight in Nigeria.

“Hydrography is a very costly project and it is only the federal government that can invest in it, and now the government has given us a go-ahead to invest in this area.

“By doing so, we should be able to produce the required outcome that will also help us to contribute to the economy of this nation through sales and dissemination of hydrographic information.

“The NHA is not only the national security apparatus, it is also a commercial apparatus designed to contribute to reducing the issue of capital flight.

“The issue of using foreign exchange to acquire hydrotherapy and other marine data products from abroad is one of the tasks that this agency should immediately look towards addressing.”

On his part, the Hydrographer of the Federation, Rear Admiral AO Olugbode expressed the Agency’s commitment to capacity building, advanced technology and innovative methodologies to drive its workforce in producing high-quality hydrographic data, critical for the nation’s maritime success.

He said, “Hydrography is not just about data; it is about collaboration and shared knowledge.

“We will continue to work closely with all stakeholders, from industry leaders to academic institutions and international partners, to foster a collaborative approach to hydrographic surveying and data management.

“By sharing resources and expertise, we can maximise the impact of our efforts and build a robust hydrographic infrastructure that benefits all maritime users.”

One of the highlights of the event was the unveiling of the Approaches to Lagos Chat, Revised National Charting Scheme and the Catalogue of Nigerian Charts.

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