Ambassador Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE), says Africa’s Blue Economy is under serious threats largely due to governance, capacity issues, and pollution.
Other factors include indiscriminate discarding of single-use plastics, oil spills, environmental degradation of the marine environment and unsustainably managed rapid urban and industrial growth, resulting in the heavy pollution of oceans loss of biodiversity.
The others are Illegal trafficking, illegal unreported, unregulated (IUU) and indiscriminate fishing, Transnational Organized Crimes, weak governance and political leadership.
Ambassador Sacko stated at the commemoration of the 2021 edition of African Day of Seas and Oceans at Mahe, Republic of Seychelles, which was on the theme: “Transforming the challenges of African seas and oceans into opportunities”.
It was organised by the African Union Commission, which was to raise awareness on the critical role played by Africa’s oceans and seas in attaining sustainable development within the framework of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a paper made available to the Ghana News Agency in Tema on Thursday stated.
Ambassador Sacko identified challenges as climate change and vulnerability to extreme weather events, overfishing, coupled with threats to maritime security, which are significant challenges that we must overcome.
She also identified Africa’s legacy with massive aquatic and marine resources including oceans, seas, rivers and lakes which are potential for the development of the blue economy in the continent.
“The huge opportunities around Africa’s Blue Economy can change the narrative for the continent as an engine for socio-economic development and industrialization.
“It can further create job opportunities and improve livelihoods for the teeming population in the continent, particularly for women and youth,” Ambassador Sacko added.
President Wavel Ramkalawan of the Republic of Seychelles at the opening called for a push for continued scientific research; for oceans and seas not only to have ecological, nutritional and economic values but also to recognise their role as key climate regulators that influence global weather systems.
President Ramkalawan, who is also AU Champion for Blue Economy, said: “Our nations need to know the ripple effects of human interventions, especially when there is over-exploitation and sustainability is threatened. Our ‘blue’ blind spot or ocean-related scientific knowledge gaps need to be filled.”
Africa currently has more than 12 million people engaged in the fishing sector alone, providing food security and nutrition for nearly 200 million people and generating an estimated value of US$24 billion annually, which represents 1.26 percent of the GDP of African Countries.
The AU Summit Decision Assembly retained the 2015-2025 decade as the “Decade of African Seas and Oceans” and the date of July 25 for the commemoration of the African Day of Seas and Oceans.
The 2019 and 2020 editions were postponed due to unforeseen circumstances in 2019 and COVID-19 in 2020.
It provided an opportunity to reflect on opportunities and challenges facing Africa’s resources in its Oceans, Seas, Rivers and Lakes and deliberated on appropriate policy and institutional responses.
The AU Commission, through its Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE) in collaboration with the Government of Seychelles organised the 2021 edition.