ECA: Blue economy can be engine of Africa’s economic growth

ICE.1 1The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is supporting the African Union, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and member States to ensure that the potentials of the continent’s blue economy are fully realised, according to ECA’s Southern Africa director Said Adejumobi

He said that the ECA will, therefore, continue to support the continent through research and analytical work, technical assistance, capacity building, advocacy and awareness raising activities so that it can collectively and sustainably benefit from its blue economy resources.

“The blue economy can be the engine of economic growth, the basis of socio-economic development and industrialization for many African countries, if well utilised. The maritime industry, for example, is estimated at more than US$1 trillion, and there are other related and emerging sectors of tourism, offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive industries, marine biotechnology and bioprospecting,” he said.

In China, for example, citing a report of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Adejumobi noted, “The ocean economy contributed US$962bn or 10 per cent of its GDP and employed over nine million people in 2014. In the United States of America, the ocean economy was valued at about US$258bn or 1.8 per cent of its GDP in 2010, and in Indonesia, the ocean economy contributed about 20 per cent of its GDP which is similar to the ratio of other middle-income oceanic countries.”

“While other countries and regions are harvesting the gains and returns from the blue economy, West Africa, for example, is estimated to be losing about US$2bn annually from illegal fishing,” the ECA Southern Africa Chief said.

Seychelles has developed a National Blue Economy Roadmap through which it seeks to accelerate economic growth and diversification, while Mauritius has Vision 2030, which provides an overall development framework, including on the blue economy sector.

Some of the associated challenges and risks of the blue economy include issues of governance and security of the ocean, piracy and terrorism, climate change, ocean environmental sustainability, poor infrastructure and technology, effective production connectivity with land-linked and land-locked countries, financing, and poor technical skills and capacity, he said, adding that more needs to be done at the regional level in the transformation of the blue economy sector through an integrated and holistic approach.

Senior policymakers from the region, leading practitioners and experts, private sector operators, civil society, regional and international development agencies, including development financial institutions are attending the meeting. The meeting is hosted by the government of Mauritius.

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