Africa’s blue economy can be a crucial contributor to the regional and global economy and has the potential to grow further. However, the sector faces several challenges in achieving sustainable growth. This article provides an overview of the blue economy and its key drivers, some of the challenges it is facing, and suggestions for new sustainable strategies that could be implemented to improve the development of this sector.
A Contextual Summary of the African Maritime Environment
Coastal and marine resources are central to providing food, energy, and jobs to millions of people; however, Africa’s maritime industry faces many challenges, including climate change and illegal fishing practices. Climate change affects the availability of marine resources and makes it harder for vessels to navigate. At the same time, illegal fishing has caused the depletion of many stocks and the degradation of critical marine habitats. These problems are putting Africa’s maritime industry at risk, and there’s a need for concerted actions to address them.
Red Code Alarm and Climate Change
In his reference to the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “it is clear to all who want to listen that the planet is facing a climate crisis.” He elaborated that this is “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening and the evidence is irrefutable”. By extension, the climate crisis creates an ocean crisis, directly increasing the risks for marine biodiversity.
The Consequences of Illegal Fishing Practices
There are many harmful consequences of illegal fishing practices, including depletion of fish stocks, loss of habitat, pollution, and the displacement of marine life. Illegal fishing also contributes to global warming, as fishing vessels generate large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Africa’s Blue Economy Strategy Explained
In the African context, the Blue Economy includes oceans, seas, coasts, lakes, rivers, and subsurface water. It encompasses both aquatic and marine spaces. Fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transportation, shipbuilding, energy, bioprospecting underwater mining, and other related operations are just a few of the sectors that it supports. The key obstacles that a Blue Economy strategy might help overcome include increasing knowledge and raising awareness of climate change, environmental stewardship, and promoting environment-friendly business practices.
What Does the Blue Economy Hope To Achieve?
The Blue Economy provides an opportunity for strengthened partnerships that can assist coastal communities to become an inclusive part of economic development. It can lead to the expansion of progress and peace and foster a climate of prosperity across the African continent.
What Can We Expect From Africa’s Blue Economy ?
Cultural and other societal elements have an impact on our lived experience of the economy. Therefore, the successful transition to a blue economy for Africa, could imply the following actions:
- Agenda setting, awareness, and sensitization
- Coordination in formulating the Blue Economy policy
- Building national ownership of the Blue Economy policy formulation process
- Sector identification and prioritization
- Designing the Blue Economy policy
- Policy Implementation
- Monitoring and Evaluation
Africa’s maritime industry faces several challenges that have a direct bearing on its ability to thrive and grow. From the effects of climate change to the rampant illegal fishing practices, there is always something standing in the way of progress.
However, through collective efforts and concerted action, Africa’s maritime industry can overcome these challenges and usher in a new era of prosperity for all.