African Leaders Vows Development of Blue Economy to Boost Growth

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Eromosele Abiodun

African leaders have assured of the development of the blue economy as a veritable strategy for advancing economies and lifting the people out of poverty.

The leaders made the pledge at the first global conference on sustainable blue economy in Nairobi Kenya.
Speaking at the conference, Chairman of the African Union (AU), President Paul Kigame of Rwanda, said the union was committed to the growth of the blue economy in the continent.

Kigame, said member-states had shown commitment towards sustainable use of the ocean and AU would continue to formulate policies that would engender the development of Africa’s ocean economy.

On her part, the Prime Minister of Namibia, Saara Kuugongelwa, said the Namibian government was committed to developing an integrated blue economy policy geared towards protecting the marine environment of the Southern African country.

Kuugongelwa, said Namibia had a special fisheries observers’ institution, which puts the country among the leaders in sustainable fisheries management.

She disclosed that in the next 12 months, Namibia would be investing a minimum of $5 million towards marine research, on purpose to advance economic inclusivity.

In his remarks, the President of Seychelles Danny Faure, who was appointed to serve as the AU Champion of Blue Economy, said in his own capacity he will get more women to serve on the blue economy regime. This, he said, would ensure that the campaign for the blue economy remained all-inclusive.

He also said his country would work on establishing a pan African shipping line.

Other African leaders in attendance included the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta who is the Chief Host of the conference; President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohammed; President of Tanzania, John Magufuli; President of Zanzibar, Ali Mohamed Shein; President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni; and President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi. The Governments of Canada and Japan who are co-hosting the conference were represented by their top cabinet ministers.

Also in attendance was the newly re-elected Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, the Canadian Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and several other notable world maritime stakeholders.

The inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference has over 15,000 participants from around the world. They are gathered to discuss how to build a blue economy that harnesses the potentials of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of people, particularly those in developing countries.

In his opening remarks, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside stated that it was high time Africans took advantage of the continent’s enormous maritime potential to develop their countries, explaining that climes without as much opportunities are making worthy use of the ocean economy and increasing the prosperity of their people.

According to him, “It is common knowledge that among all the continents, Africa can be termed the biggest Island, and so if countries of the region can sustainably harness the blue economy it is sure that a large percentage of poverty level in the continent of Africa would have been tackled.”

Dakuku, who is also Chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA), delivered a statement of commitment on behalf of the association during the three-day conference, which is co-sponsored by Nigeria. In it, he detailed the objectives of AAMA, the coordinating body for 38 African Maritime Administrations, to include improvement of the capacities of African maritime administrations, enhancement of member-states’ compliance with international maritime treaties, and coordination of programmes aimed at synchronising the ocean economy with other economic sectors.

He said: “All these objectives assigned to us by AFrica Maritime Transport Charter put AAMA in a unique position to fully mobilise players in the maritime domain for optimisation of the potentials of Africa’s Blue Economy.”