Africa’s Blue Economy to hit $200 billion in 2025

November 3, 2017

New data in your blogger’s possession shows that by 2025, Africa’s marine industries are forecast to contribute about $200 billion each year to Africa’s economy, with Africa’s ocean and coasts providing an additional $45 billion worth of ecosystem services.  The scientific data identifies food security as one of several challenges, along with biodiversity conservation and environmental health.Others mentioned are commercial, recreational and small scale fishing as well as aquaculture. The study by African scientists identifies national and regional research goals to support sustainable expansion in fisheries and aquaculture.Over 100 people were involved in the research including marine scientists, the commercial fishing industry, other stakeholders and African governments agencies. In many ways, African countries represent ocean superpowers as they share huge marine resources and opportunities. At the same time countries face increasing challenges to their oceans and coastal regions brought about by climate change and over-exploitation.Recently, marine scientists identified possible areas of collaboration for African countries to solve these challenges. The scientists highlighted several potential areas of collaboration on marine science and climate change among African countries that included scientists from African countries who believe it’s important for countries to work together to understand the impact of climate change on marine resources, and to create solutions. Climate change is causing rising sea levels and surface temperatures as well as ocean acidification. These have resulted in the mortality that affect livelihoods in African countries. The scientific communities urged their governments to do more to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases. Scientists also pointed out that African countries should look into developing a strategy to reduce emissions by maximizing their coastal ecosystems and oceans as carbon sinks. There was also support for countries in the region to explore ways to increase cooperation and knowledge sharing in new technologies for the rapid monitoring of key marine resources.Also identified were the breakthroughs in technologies, such as image recognition, neural networks and machine learning that are rapidly reducing the time and costs of detailed reef monitoring. African countries were urged to work together to advance the sciences to better manage migratory species such as turtles and other megafauna. Africa’s marine economy is projected to grow three times faster than Africa’s gross domestic product over the seven years, more than tripling its current contribution according to the data.The economic potential of Africa’s oceans is significant with countries and businesses increasingly thinking about how to tap ocean resources for economic growth and investment.However, unchecked economic ocean activity poses a real threat to the ecological health of Indian and Atlantic oceans which are part of African coastline.

The two oceans are increasingly under stress according to the researchers who believes that blue economy is one which strikes the right balance between reaping the economic potential of oceans with the need to safeguard their longer term health. To them, a blue economy is one in which oceans ecosystems brings economic and social benefits that are efficient, equitable and sustainable. They recommend a holistic approach to developing coastal fisheries as the fisheries require the development of whole of system thinking, with integrated management and governance that recognizes the multiple uses and activities across space and time. Researchers noted that development of animal national parks and game reserves have for decades been successful to a substantial extent in all African countries and the same concept can be implemented for marine sector. But for that to work, researcher say datasets need to be developed in order to detect and respond to present and future impacts. In addition, developing greater cooperation on research, innovation and business development. The links between science and innovation and the blue economy need to be strengthened and reinforced. Researchers identified a need and interest to develop an African partnership to collaborate on problem solving in the ocean space and to develop databases that readily available to multiple cultural and language groups.Marine ecosystems of African countries are facing threats of over exploitation and destruction.Pollution from chemicals and plastics has begun to choke entire coastlines, destroying ecosystems and opportunity. At the same time, ocean ecosystems such as reefs, forests and mangroves are disappearing at rates up to 8% per year from many African coastal areas.Most fisheries are under-performing. According to the researcher’s data your blogger has analyzed, 90% of the fish stocks are fully exploited or are collapsing. That is, Africa is getting much less than the sustainable yield should deliver and are threatening to foreclose on future ocean wealth and opportunity.For industries, such as tourism, new fisheries, energy production and the development of new pharmaceuticals, the blue economy represents an enormous untapped potential. It is critical to strike a balance between harvesting the economic potential of oceans and safeguarding their longer-term health and well-being.Sadly, despite the economic value of these opportunities, the marine resources of African countries are at serious risk of being degraded before even the countries develop those opportunities. There is a great opportunity and imperative for African countries to join forces to solve these critical challenges.To solve the problems, African countries need greater knowledge about ocean wealth and build the capacity to understand and sensibly exploit ocean resources.All this means more people and infrastructure. There’s need to promote greater local, national, regional knowledge and information exchange. African researchers coming together much more regularly to swap ideas and develop new solutions and approaches will be a great step towards achieving those goals and the $200 billion figure will not just be on paper.

Contador Harrison