On 5 October 2022, the fourth workshop for the promotion of the sustainable development of Africa’s deep-seabed resources in support of Africa’s blue economy strategy opened in Abuja, Nigeria. 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). It will take place from 5 to 7 October 2022, gathering 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.

African States make up 47 of the 168 Members of ISA. Nine African States currently sit on the Council of ISA, and 12 African experts are members of the Finance Committee or the Legal and Technical Commission.

ISA, the African Union and NORAD launched the Africa Deep-Sea Resources (ADSR) project at the 2017 United Nations Ocean Conference and renewed their commitment to its vision at the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference held in Lisbon, Portugal, in June 2022 (#OceanAction40945). Various activities have been designed and implemented to address the strategic priorities identified by African States concerning the development of their respective blue economy agenda.

Building up on the success of previous regional workshops held in Cote d’Ivoire (2018), South Africa (2019) and Mauritius (2021), the Abuja workshop aims to create the enabling conditions for participants to discuss the potential opportunities offered by the effective participation of African States in deep-sea related activities and the work of ISA. It will be the opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics, including the geological aspects of seabed minerals, the legal regime governing their exploration and exploitation while ensuring the protection of the marine environment, several case studies on the development of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and ways to build and develop the capacities of African States in marine scientific research, new technology and environmental management in support of the sustainable development of Africa’s blue economy.

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.

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. “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,” she said.

“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 added.

Mrs. Anita Krokan, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Abuja, reaffirmed Norway’s support. “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,” she said.

Concluding the high-level segment of the workshop, 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,” he added.

Further information on the workshop is available here: https://www.isa.org.jm/event/adsr-project-nigeria-workshop.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Stefanie Neno, Communications Specialist, ISA, sneno@isa.org.jm

For more information on the ADSR project, please contact:

Dr. Marie Bourrel-McKinnon, Chief of Staff and Head of Strategic Planning Unit, ISA, m.bourrel@isa.org.jm