Africa’s blue economy remains in the red

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

CAPE TOWN–GLOBAL economic experts have previously estimated the economic value of the blue economy for Africa at over one trillion US dollars.

If they are right, this should translate to hundreds of thousands of job opportunities for young African men and women.

Although exports and imports are processed through Africa’s oceans, seas and waterways, the continent is not receiving the requisite benefits, including the jobs.

Members of the African Union Commission’s executive council met for an Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security, Safety and Development on October 13, in Lomé, Togo, in an attempt to fix this dilemma.

The foreign ministers met to collectively push forward Africa’s agenda on blue economy and maritime security in the context of Agenda 2063 and the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIM 2050).

Prof Robert Dussey, Togo’s Foreign Affairs Minister, noted that Africa has reached a stage where promises and good intentions are no longer sufficient.

He said Africa needs to go beyond intentions and take concrete actions that will contribute towards securing and extracting a premium from the continent’s maritime resources.

As a practical solution, a proposal for the training of young women and men in various sectors of the maritime industry has been raised.

It calls for the transformation of the sector to reverse the trend where 90 percent of Africa’s imports and exports are by sea, yet less than 2 percent of ships globally are owned by Africans, and not more than 1 percent of Africans are seafarers.

In addition, as the outcome of the event, member states were challenged to invest and explore the oceans, seas and waterways to create jobs and wealth for the benefit of their citizens.

Such a transformation will require greater involvement and opening up of opportunities for women so as to realise the objectives of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

And on his part, the chairperson of the Executive Council and Chad’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moussa Faki Mahamat, stressed the importance of adopting the Charter.

He said the Charter, will consolidate instruments and frameworks that will secure and develop seas and waterways through which 90 percent of Africa’s overseas traded goods transit.