Globally, sea resources have the capacity to boosting social and economic growth or transformation of the African continent. Challenged by what he observed in Namibia’s fish-freezing factory during a state visit, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya urged his African counterparts to make good use of their water resources. Various governments in Africa have always concentrated on mineral resources, thus, promoting the blue economy still remains a major setback in the contemporary African society. Notwithstanding, enormous strides are underway to address the imbalance.
Africa’s biggest fish freezing factory
Namibia, a country in southern Africa, has made a milestone in acquiring Africa’s biggest fish freezing factory. Known as the seaflower pelagic processing factory, it is the most renowned and biggest factory in Sub- Saharan Africa located in Walvis Bay Namibia. The combined efforts of the Namibian government and a private investor gave life to the 40 million us dollars factory. In present-day Africa, the Namibian freezing factory freezes 600 tonnes of fish on a daily basis. It is worth noting that the factory has provided direct employment to some seven hundred (700) people. In Namibia, fishing represents third-biggest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product. Mining and agriculture occupy the first and second places respectively.
In terms of annual foreign earning, fishing alone accounts for about n$10 billion ($783 million). According to reports, a nation like Kenya with enough fish in its waters, still import frozen fish from China. Local fishermen remain in despair as they barely survive in the activity. None the less, the east African nation has vowed to emulate Namibia and promised to replicate the design of the ‘’seaflower processing factory. Even though President Kenyatta applauded President Hage Geingob of Namibia for the realization of the giant project. He however bemoaned that ‘’unregulated and illegal fishing is one of the major setbacks that challenges Africa’s marine resources. Kenyatta cited “it is disappointing to see that foreign nations are benefiting more from the abundant fish in the territorial waters of many African countries.’’
Less attention accorded the blue economy in Africa
As reported by a global news agency Inter Press Service (IPS), Africa is yet to valorize its blue economy, which according to its findings, blue economy is ‘’neglected, ignored and underexploited’’ on the continent. But the truth remains, if Africa can concentrate on this sector, it would be a major driver for sustainable economic growth. A study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that the total gross added value of the fisheries and aquaculture sector on the continent is projected at USD 24bn, which is equivalent to 1.6% of the GDP of all African nations. In terms of direct and indirect employment, this sector alone employs about 12.3 million people in Africa. However, the unpleasant reality is that African stakeholders are yet to fully harness or exploit this sector, noted the FAO. According to an IPS report, the Africa maritime sector can now boost of an estimated annual worth of one trillion US dollars. It is therefore imperative that this sector is given a face-lift and good policies put in place to ensure full and proper exploitation. As a solution to this problem, the African Union has included a blue economy in its development agenda 2063.
As a way of better understanding the concept of the blue economy for the betterment of the African people, a series of conferences have been held to discuss on ways to exploit and also protect African waters from indiscriminate exploitation of its marine resources. In 2018, Nairobi hosted the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference which focused on ‘’Maritime security’’ and held under the theme, ‘the blue economy and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.’ The conference presented a chance for both developing and developed nations to understand the notions of ‘’sustainability, climate change and controlling pollution, and production, enhanced economic growth, jobs and poverty mitigation’’. The 2018 conference was a prerequisite for the United Nations Ocean’s Conference which is slated for the year 2020. With all said, If African leaders can effectively manage its seas and oceans, and local businessmen invest in the marine sector, this would go a long way to foster the development of the maritime sector and bring a boost to the continent’s economic drive. Countries like Seychelles, Mauritius among others, where tourism is a major economic activity have been striving to maintain a positive outlook as far as the blue economy is concerned. Controlling the depletion of marine resources remains a major challenge for African stakeholders. Drilling of minerals beneath the seas and oceans can sometimes be harmful to the waters, thus extinction of fishes and other resources found in water. Consequently, a greater task lies ahead for African governments.
Article from AFRIC editorial.
Credit image/google images.