Op-Ed: How Africa can boost its blue economy

By Maram Ahmed, Senior Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

The blue economy has immense value and lots of opportunity for Africa.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, it has been at the heart of global supply chains and will no doubt be vital in recovery efforts.

An increasingly popular concept in policy circles, the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs and ocean ecosystem health” according to the World Bank.

READ: Op-Ed: Why Africa’s blue economy is one of its biggest opportunities

Traditional blue economy industries such as tourism, fisheries and maritime transport as well as non-traditional industries, such as renewable energy, aquaculture, marine biotechnology, have vast potential to meet growing economic demands.

The importance of the blue economy is further highlighted in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal number 14 “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

Given oceans do not exist in a vacuum and have no borders, south-south cooperation and partnerships within both the public and private sectors can help boost the blue economy.

South-South cooperation refers to developing countries in the “Global South” working together to find solutions to common development challenges according to the UN’s Office for South-South Cooperation. Cooperation includes the sharing of knowledge, resources and technology in areas such as climate change, agriculture, urbanisation and so on. 

There are common concerns shared by countries in the Global South with regards to the blue economy, such as the adverse impacts of climate change, rising sea levels, increase in natural disasters like droughts, coastal erosion and the depletion of ocean resources.

Going forward, prioritising policies and practices that ensure sustainable management and conservation of the ocean is vital. For example, enhancing sustainable practices in the fisheries industry to prevent overfishing and illegal fishing would go a long way.

Over the past few decades, fish stocks have considerably decreased disrupting marine ecosystems. In Africa alone the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa estimates the continent loses around US$ 42 billion per year through illegal fishing activities – putting added strain on the oceans.

This is not a problem Africa alone is facing as the issue persists in the Global South, ie, developing countries, which are located primarily in the Southern Hemisphere, therefore it should be addressed in cooperation with these countries through South-South cooperation. Knowledge sharing and formulating strategic frameworks in a concerted manner is an ideal approach. Ultimately, it may help safeguard Africa’s fisheries sector and offer new pathways for sustainable development.  

Another way South-South cooperation can boost the blue economy is by collectively combatting the impact climate change is having on the oceans.

The oceans are being unprecedentedly impacted by climate change on multiple fronts – changes in water temperature, acidification and loss of biodiversity are disrupting and degrading coastal and marine ecosystems.

Greater collaboration to integrate cross-border policies to preserve the health of the oceans and the underlying marine ecosystems shared, can harness the blue economy efficiently.

As seventy percent of African countries are coastal, the Blue Economy is a low hanging fruit for many countries. It offers the opportunity for countries on the continent to not only diversify their economies and preserve marine ecosystems but it could help transition some countries to middle-income status.

A key to unlocking the potential of the blue economy is through promoting South-South cooperation. It no way displaces north-south cooperation but rather complements it.

Sharing of knowledge, technology, expertise through South-South cooperation would be a catalyst to the growth of the blue economy.

Related Content

NSC’s Hassan Bello highlights the need to improve port infrastructure

NSC CEO keen to see Nigeria improve port infrastructure

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

AfrAsia Bank CEO on COVID-19 & its impact on Mauritian economy

Mauritius has been praised for its efforts in curing the spread of Covid-19 in the country, but is not immune to the economic havoc that the pandemic has brought the global economy. The country held its national budget speech yesterday and joining CNBC Africa to unpack more on this and the business opportunities that will arise Post-Covid-19 is Sanjiv Bhasin, CEO of AfrAsia Bank.

AxiCorp’s outlook for global oil markets

Brent crude prices have risen by 14 per cent this week and continued to rise in morning trade, eagerly waiting for the expected OPEC+ meeting that will take place tomorrow. The meeting will see the world’s major oil producers discuss extended production cuts. Stephen Innes, Global Chief Markets Strategist at AxiCorp joins CNBC Africa for more.

Rosette Muhoza on the environmental opportunity created by COVID-19

Despite the effects of COVID-19, the environment has been one of the few things that benefited from the pandemic. CNBC Africa spoke to Rosette Muhoza, Co-founder of My Green Home Rwanda to talk about how this pandemic has affected their company and how to sustain a clean environment.

Partner Content


FROM THE MAYOR’S DESK Halfway through the month of May, we had fruitful engagements...

Sanlam Emerging Markets and its partners on the African continent invest over $12 million to fight COVID-19

As we go through this global pandemic together, it is the little things we miss. A high five, a handshake, a walk...

Trending Now

Op-Ed: Supporting the ICT sector in Africa as a cure for the economic crisis

“We need to think, and fast, about how we can help our African partner in the race against time as it faces the predicted economic disaster in the wake of the global covid-19 pandemic,” writes Franc Bogovic and Engin Eroglu.

African Development Bank board stands by embattled President Adesina

The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) board on Thursday said it stood by an internal investigation that had cleared its president of improper conduct, but it would carry out an independent review of the report in the interest of due process.

NAICOM extends insurance recapitalisation deadline to September 2021

Nigeria's insurance regulator NAICOM has extended the deadline for the recapitalisation of insurance companies to September 2021. The recapitalisation process has also been segmented into two phases. Tajudeen Ibrahim, vice-President and Head of Research at Chapel Hill Denham joins CNBC Africa for more.

BlackRock on Covid-19 markets & economic damage

Global investment management group BlackRock believes that the best market cure for the impact of Covid-19 is inclusive and coordinated fiscal and monetary policy response. Joining CNBC Africa to unpack more on this and their 2020 investment themes is Karim Chedid, Investment Strategist at BlackRock.
- Advertisement -