Invest in marine economy for Africa’s growth

The departure of fishermen at sunrise
Copyright: JB Russell / Panos Pictures / Panos

Speed read

  • Investing in Africa’s marine-based economy could spur development, ministers say
  • They add that Africa should fund fisheries R&D to help increase food security
  • The continent reap over US$50 billion annually from marine-based economy

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[NAIROBI] Sub-Saharan Africa should invest in research and development to promote blue economy — which includes marine biotechnology, fisheries, aquaculture, transport and tourism — for sustainable development, say African ministers.
The ministers of finance and agriculture from Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda note that Africa could reap the benefits of blue economy by investing in facilities that meet international standards.

“We need more investments in research capacity and conservation of marine resources.”

Moses Zinnah, Ministry of Agriculture, Liberia


 The ministers were speaking on the sidelines of the 6th Tokyo International Conference of African Development held in Kenya last month (27-28 August).
The event brought together scientists, governments and private sector experts from many countries to share strategies to improve Africa’s blue economy.
They pointed out that blue economy offers opportunities to improve livelihoods of Africans through increased food and nutrition security, and creation of jobs.
According to Ssempijja Bamulangaki, Uganda’s minister of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries, investments in blue economy could help Africa sustainably feed its rapidly growing population.
He observes that over 12 million people are engaged in the fisheries sector in Africa and the continent could receive over US$50 billion annually if the sector is well managed with the right technologies.
Moses Zinnah, Liberia’s minister for agriculture, adds: “We need more investments in research capacity and conservation of marine resources,” noting that the continent needs increased monitoring and surveillance of marine resources that could help manage unregulated and unreported fishing.
He encourages strengthening of public-private partnerships and regional collaborations in building capacity and sharing of experiences on blue economy.
Willy Bett, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for agriculture, livestock and fisheries, says that effective structures and policies should be put in place to help Africa reap the benefits of blue economy.
Haleh Birdi, World Bank’s director of Africa external communications and partnerships, explains that mismanagement is a huge threat to marine resources, adding that coral reefs have declined globally by 40 per cent due to illegal fishing and overfishing.
Climate change is creating more pressure on marine resources,” says Birdi, “We need a strategic vision, good governance and investments to sustainably use oceans.”

But Obinna Anozie, policy analyst from African Union’s Kenya-headquartered Interafrica Bureau for Animal Resources, says that the continent needs increased awareness of the importance of blue economy.
 “We need to sensitize governments, and people on the significance of this sector in sustainable development,” Anozie tells SciDev.Net.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.