The Federal Government of Nigeria and the Commonwealth Secretariat have had discussions centered on developing Nigeria’s deep-sea mining potentials in her coastal waters.
The Nigerian delegation, led by the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Oladele Alake made the proactive move to position the solid minerals sector on the global stage.
During the forum, Alake highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s recognition of the solid minerals sector as a cornerstone in Nigeria’s current efforts to diversify the economy. This policy direction prompted the ministry to craft a seven-point agenda, encompassing the establishment of a solid minerals company, gathering extensive data on mineral reserves to mitigate investment risks, enhancing security to safeguard mines and fostering socio-economic development in mining communities through effective community development agreements.
Alake urged the Commonwealth, with its wealth of expertise, to support the Tinubu administration’s endeavours. As Nigeria is a former British colony and a member of the 54-member Commonwealth, the collaborative potential is substantial.
In response, the senior director of the trade, oceans and natural resources department, Paul Kautoke applauded the delegation for its visit. He underscored Nigeria’s coastal advantage, suggesting the exploration of profitable deep-sea minerals such as copper, cobalt, nickel, gold and rare earth elements.
Kautoke noted the progress made by many Commonwealth countries in the Pacific region in the deep-sea mining subsector, expressing the Commonwealth’s willingness to assist in formulating a policy tailored for Nigeria.
Additional insights were provided by director of natural resources, Victor Kitange; Trade and investment adviser, Opeyemi Abebe; Economic adviser, Daniel Wilder and ocean governance adviser, Allison Swaddling. They highlighted the advancements in deep-sea mining and raised concerns about African countries lagging behind.
Swaddling mentioned online training programmes available through the department, with Abebe offering similar assistance to Nigeria, drawing on previous experience with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC).
In response, Alake acknowledged the new perspective brought by the discussion on deep sea mining, pledging that the ministry would collaborate with other ministries to study this dimension thoroughly. The goal is to formulate a comprehensive country proposal for further consideration.