This follows a move by the African Union (AU) to prepare a draft strategy on the blue economy, a programme which is overseen by experts in the fisheries sub-sector who are meeting in Dar es Salaam to discuss and improve the document before coming up with a final copy.
They are also discussing how to improve awareness on the potential of the sub-sector in Africa, identify policy and knowledge gaps among Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as well as how partner states will implement the blue economy strategy.
Addressing delegates at the opening of the meeting, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Rashid Tamatamah said the aim is to see more key sectors linked to the blue economy.
“By the end of the day we want more sectors such as transport and others to be aligned to the developed strategy to help in formulating a national blue economy policy,” asserted the PS.
Dr Tamatamah said the draft is designed to trigger and amplify exchanges between actors and users of maritime and blue economy goods and services to ensure an inclusive and sustainable implementation of the Africa blue economy strategy.
He gave an example of Zanzibar which has a specific ministry to deal with the blue economy, expressing hopes that the outcomes of the expert’s discussion will help EAC partner states to improve marine resources management, increase fish stock and production, access markets and expand economies.
Dr Mohammed Seisay, a Senior fisheries expert from AU said the programme which is under the African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) aims to identify opportunities and constraints for the implementation of the blue economy strategy in the continent and set up a coordinated mechanism for implementation of the Africa blue economy strategy to facilitate sharing lessons and best practices.
According to him, the plan is to have a full strategy that will be implemented by all African countries in the next few years.
The concept of the blue economy was first highlighted at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.
Regarding UNCTAD, blue economy is defined as the economic and trade activities that focus on the ocean-based marine environment, associated biodiversity, ecosystems, species, and genetic resources whilst ensuring conservation.
In terms of Africa, the prospects of blue economy to influence Africa’s economic growth was first highlighted in the AU Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) of 2050 and advanced with the adoption of the African Charter on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa (or the Lomé Charter) by the African Union Assembly in 2016.
As set out by the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the blue economy is perceived as the continent’s future because its benefits extend beyond the shores of coastal states and create opportunities for adjacent landlocked communities and countries.
South Africa, Seychelles and Mauritius are the success stories as far as the blue economy is concerned in Africa.