Discussing the blue economy: Why is it important in Eastern Africa?

Kigali, 06 February 2014 (ECA) - Studies have shown that oceans, seas and lakes require more in depth attention and coordinated action to better play their role in developing Africa.

According to Antonio Pedro, Director of Economic Commission for Africa in the Eastern Africa, oceans and waters provide a substantial portion of the global population with food and livelihoods and are the means of transport for over 80% of global trade. He explains that oceans cover 72% of the surface of our planet and constitute more than 95% of the biosphere while the deep seabed provides 32% of the global supply of hydrocarbons with exploration expanding.

"A holistic approach of the concept known as blue economy, that focuses on sound utilisation of resources linked to oceans, rivers, lakes and other water bodies is emerging and vital to development,”says Pedro. He adds that discussions on the blue economy should be conducted in an integrated manner where we examine the nexus between fisheries, shipment and maritime transport systems, biodiversity conservation, energy, climate change and better livelihoods, as a whole".

Pedro affirms that in current interlinked global economies, what happens in coastal and island countries matters also for landlocked states.  

An intergovernmental Committee of Experts meeting to discuss how to harness the Blue Economy for Eastern Africa’s Development, organized jointly by UNECA and Government of Madagascar, is scheduled to be held in Antananarivo from 2to 5 March 2015.

Though facing multiple daunting challenges, oceans’ ecosystems and associated resources are important and strategic economy drivers in many countries. According to the 2014 Africa Progress Report, Illegal unreported and unregulated fishing costs Africa a lot. The report cites that the amount of resources that are lost in west Africa is estimated at USD 1.3 billion every year with significant damages in ecological systems and food and nutrition security too.

“I am sure that what is lost in Indian Ocean is much bigger than that”, says Max Jarrett, the Deputy Director of the Africa Progress Panel. He calls for African states to adopt and ratify policy tools that would prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal and unreported plunder of African waters.

Jarret says that discussion about blue economy should not forget also reserves that are in our rivers and lakes. “In Eastern Africa, the resources in great lakes such as Tanganyika, victoria and Kivu are huge. Aquaculture is important not only in the costal and island state but also in landlocked countries”, he says.

For more information about the Madagascar meeting on blue economy, please visit:

- www.uneca.org/ea-ice19

- Twitter - @eca-sro_ea

For Media Contacts and Additional Information, requests for interviews should be directed to:

- Mr. Didier Habimana; email: dhabimana@uneca.org

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