African countries have committed to enhance the development of blue economy as the engine of growth, as it has the potential of driving industrialisation, alleviating poverty, increasing food security and creating job opportunities.
During a blue economy side event held at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), African government representatives agreed that countries stand to reap maximum benefits from utilizing seas, oceans, lakes, rivers and other water resources for sustainable socio-economic development.
“We believe that blue economy is the new frontier for Africa’s renaissance”, said Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Ms. Monica Juma.
Several African countries are already formulating strategies to mainstream blue economy in their national development plans and the concept is gaining traction across the continent. Three countries, South Africa, Mauritius and Seychelles, are leading African initiatives, implementing national blue economy strategies, achieving early success and generating several good practices that can be emulated in other African countries. Several other countries, including Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana are also taking steps to develop their blue economy.
“We are working actively with the African Union Commission to develop model Blue Economy Policy and put in place tools which may be adopted to each country’s specification”, indicated President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, who is hailed by the African Union (AU) as champion for the Blue Economy.
While noting that blue economy extends not only to the ocean but rivers, lakes and other water resources, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa called on African countries to ensure equitable utilization of water resources and address harmful practices that may affect its sustainable utilization.
“Blue economy has the potential of promoting economic growth, social inclusion, and improving livelihoods. Achieving this will see African countries on the path to the attainment of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development”, Ms. Eziakonwa stated.
Discussions at the event placed emphasis on environmental sustainability in a bid to address challenges of marine littering and plastic pollution; Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing; industrial discharge and effects of other marine activities that hinder the productive potential and sustainable use of water resources.
“An inclusive approach towards our blue economy is the key to encourage people to see value in the protection of water resources”, said Botswana Foreign Minister, Unity Dow.
The event’s participants also called for the need to increase investment in knowledge, including science-based stock assessment and research on other resources such as minerals, biotechnology and renewable energy to promote development.
Japan is one of the leading maritime nations endowed with rich maritime resources and has been supporting African countries in their efforts to take advantage of the potential of the Blue Economy. At TICAD7 conference, Japan pledged to support Africa to reduce marine plastics littering on a global scale by supporting waste management, promoting fisheries through the development of fishing ports and fish markets, including aquaculture in countries with no oceans and seas, increase contributions to enhance capacity to combat IUU fishing and improve overall human resource capacity to manage the Blue Economy.
TICAD7 was held from 28 to 30 August 2019 in Yokohama, Japan. It was organized by the Government of Japan in collaboration with UNDP, the African Union Commission (AUC), the World Bank, and the United Nations, under the theme: “Advancing Africa's development through people, technology and innovation.”