WINDHOEK - The new Blue Economy concept – which is defined as the use of ocean resources by human beings and at the same time make sure that such resources are not depleted, is increasingly gaining support as the vehicle towards achieving ocean sustainability in Africa.
According to a paper by the World Bank entitled ‘The World Bank & the Blue Economy in Africa’, the blue economy is possible in fisheries, aquaculture, minerals, energy, transport and trade, tourism and recreation and marine biotechnology.
It says it is a fact that oceans, coasts, coral reefs and un-spoilt beaches attract tourism in Africa while over 12 million people in the continent are engaged in the fisheries sector alone. “About 90 percent of world trade is carried by ship over oceans. Offshore oil production accounts for about 30 percent of the total world production,” says the World Bank.
The paper says requirements for the realisation of the Blue Economy in Africa includes Africa’s vision and commitment to implement global agreements which have some relevance to the concept such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of which are extremely relevant for the blue economy, such as goal 1 and 14.
The World Bank paper added that governance based on science, data and technology is critical to underpin reforms and shape management decisions, whether to ensure that fish stocks are sustainably managed or that oil exploration takes critical natural habitats into account.
“For the potential of the blue economy to be realised, investments will be needed to support improved governance, community initiatives (some of which are already tested and working such as in Kenya) and an enabling environment for the private sector to engage in a responsible and sustainable way.”
Abou Bamba, the Executive Secretary of the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa (better known as the Abidjan Convention), says the Atlantic Ocean in the Abidjan Convention area should, through the blue economy concept, be linked to economic development as it can create jobs and food security.
“It is time to rise to the blue economy in a collectively and concerted manner,” said Bamba.
He explained that at the moment, Large Marine Ecosystems of the Abidjan Convention Area contributes a lot of money to the economies of countries of the Abidjan Convention through fisheries, oil and gas exploration. He gave an example of the Guinea Large Marine Ecosystem as the most productive marine ecosystems which contribute about US$18, billion annually to this West African country’s economy.
In a joint February 2016 paper entitled ‘Taking Back the Seas: Prospects for Africa’s blue economy’ they wrote for the Institute for Security Studies, the Directors for the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Programme for Climate Policy and Energy Security for Sub-Saharan Africa, Professor Oliver Ruppel and David Biam, said that the blue economy is seen as the “new frontline of Africa’s renaissance”.
They wrote that the Blue Economy and Blue Growth constitutes the essence of the Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy, which produced the 2050 AIMS Strategy, a very innovative, comprehensive and integrative vision that seeks to promote Africa’s maritime resources and the economy around the maritime industry.
AIMS 2050, they wrote, which was formally adopted in January 2014 plans to develop a tool to address Africa’s maritime challenges for sustainable development and competitiveness, further aiming to foster more wealth creation from Africa’s oceans, seas and inland water ways by developing a thriving maritime economy and realising the full potential of sea-based activities in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Dr Kaire Mbuende, Namibia’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union (EU) who is also the chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Sustainable Development for the African, Carribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, said the blue economy should be viewed as an integrative and comprehensive approach.
Mbuende said the blue economy considers immediate and long-term objectives within different interconnected sectors while incorporating social, environmental and economic issues at local, regional and global levels in coastal, Island States and land-locked countries.
He said the sectors of the blue economy are multi-faceted as it encompasses many sub-sectors and natural resources from piracy, amongst others.
“It involves oil production and exploration, mining, fisheries, tourism and ship-building. These are all important sectors that can contribute to economy development.
Coordination between these different sectors is important,” he said, adding that the blue economy should be based on the principles of the green