Blue economy in Africa

November 2, 2017

Several African countries have started implementing the blue economy concept which is an integrated, upstream and downstream development program covering fisheries, aquaculture, marine tourism, salt industry, pearl industry, ecosystem services with eco-friendly sustainable energy and other infrastructure with South Africa being at the forefront.In East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania capacity building programs are being pushed forward and are scheduled to be help build the momentum in the region.Combined, Southern and Eastern African countries are expected to create 120,000 new jobs and to generate income of US$250 million per year.The two regions have hundreds of thousands of kilometers of territorial water including exclusive economic zone and more than 10,000 kilometer long coastline. The two regions have gained recognition as strong promoters of the blue economy concept and embracing the blue economy concept has helped gain great interest in regional forums and are part of the social economic growth process. The rationale is that East and South coastline of Africa is covered by oceans which are an engine for global economic growth and a key source of food security. African ocean economic activity is estimated to be between $50 billion and $70 billion, contributing to the Africa’s economy in many important ways, such as the significant fact that 89 percent of its trade moves by marine transportation.Fisheries and aquaculture provide 200 million people with more than 25 percent of annual consumption of animal protein in Africa and over 40 percent of African oil and gas produced is extracted from offshore sites in countries like Angola and Tanzania.Studies have shown that expanding knowledge on marine biodiversity has provided breakthrough advances in sectors such as food production and aquaculture. Over 200 million of the Africa’€™s population lives within 100 kilometers of the ocean or sea in both coastal and island nations. Blue-green economy increases overall wealth of African nations while producing a higher gross domestic product growth rate.

Plans are afoot where countries in the two region are planning to pursue cross-sectoral work under an initiative on mainstreaming Ocean-related issues, including those in line with priorities outlined by ocean-related ministries in different countries, that will maintain the health and sustainability of our oceans and coastal resources for the benefit of food security, poverty eradication, preservation of traditional culture and knowledge, conservation of biodiversity and facilitation of trade and investment€. Such plans are in line with the blue economy approach. Countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, South Africa are embracing the blue economy concept in support of food security, poverty alleviation and the sustainable management of aquatic resources. The planned initiative will be a cross-cutting regional activity that will have regional and national impact on increasing food security, improving nutrition, reducing poverty of coastal and riparian communities and supporting the sustainable management of aquatic resources, including through participatory processes and actions to improve implementation at local levels. The same countries also plan to concentrate on conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas to ensure the provision of economic and social benefits and ecosystem services to their population. Among the measures that are being considered include reducing marine pollution and land-based activities, halting the destruction of marine habitats, including ocean acidification, promoting the sustainable exploitation of marine resources as well as regulating the harvesting of fish stocks. Also, the initiative focus will be on addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices, eliminating harmful subsidies and ensuring the full implementation of regional and international regimes governing oceans and seas, and establishing marine protected areas. It is high time for those countries to take a leading role to bring up the importance of marine and ocean resources with their blue economy concept.There’s every reason as to why Africa and its people and its bloodstream, the oceans, should be managed in a sustainable way for the future generations.

Contador Harrison