Japan joins Kenya as a co-host of the Blue Economy Conference.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma (left) met
the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on October 6, 2018 in
Tokyo. Credit: The Nation
By Toshitsugu Uesawa and Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 6 2018 (IPS)
With good reason, Africa is excited over the prospects of
sharing in the multi-trillion maritime industry, with the
continent’s Agenda 2063 envisioning the blue economy as a
foremost contributor to transformation and growth.
The United Nations has described Africa’s oceans, lakes and
rivers as the “new frontier of the African renaissance”.
The Blue Economy conference is happening in Nairobi from 26
November to 28 November 2018. We commend the Governments Kenya and
Canada for spearheading this important initiative.
The UN family is pleased to be part of this and Japan is
honoured to join this as a co-host.
The theme of the Blue Economy conference and the 2030 agenda for
Sustainable Development, will focus on new technologies and
innovation for oceans, seas, lakes and rivers as well as the
challenges, potential opportunities, priorities and
Ambassador Toshitsugu Uesawa
“The conference presents immense opportunities for the growth of
our economy especially sectors such as fisheries, tourism, maritime
transport, off-shore mining among others in a way that the land
economy has failed to do,” said Ambassador
Macharia Kamau, Principle Secretary, Ministry of Foreign
The conference is anchored on the two conceptual pillars of:
Sustainability, Climate Change and Controlling Pollution, and
Production, Accelerated Economic Growth, Jobs and Poverty
Consider the potential: more than half of the countries in the
continent are coastal and island states. Africa has a coastline of
over 47,000 km and 13 million km2 of collective exclusive economic
Yet, very little of the potential of the blue economy is
actually exploited. It is estimated that Africa’s coastline
currently hosts a maritime industry worth
$1 trillion per year, but could potentially be worth almost
three times that in just two years’ time.
As the continent looks at the promise of prosperity from its
maritime resources, it must keep an eye trained on the dangers that
lurk when such resources are not properly managed.
With the narrative of oil discoveries, sustainable exploitation
based on enforcement of national and international legislation must
guide any strategies for exploitation of the blue economy.
Current realities in the sector justify the cautious approach: as a
result of over-exploitation of the region’s fish stocks, it is
estimated that Africa is losing US 1.3 billion dollars every year.
Globally, laissez faire activities around marine resources
result in pollution that compromise biodiversity and human health.
It is estimated for instance that between five and 13 million tons
of plastic enter the ocean every year, causing at least $13 billion
annually in economic losses.
For the more than one-quarter of Africa’s population that
lives within 100 km of the coast and derive their livelihoods
there, climate change, rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification
and rising sea levels, all present further challenges.
These are the challenges that SDG 14 on conservation and
sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources seeks to
It is clear that if the continent is to establish a viable blue
economy, African countries must begin with focus on the current
limited infrastructure and capacities to assure maritime security
and coastal protection.
The second imperative is to establish partnerships, including
innovative financing models, preferably driven by the private
The initial signs are encouraging. Already, more than half of
the countries in Africa have adopted the African Charter on
Maritime Security and Development (“Lomé Charter”), agreeing
on continent-wide marine protection and security measures. This
will include cooperation in training, establishment of national
maritime coordination agencies, and most importantly, harmonisation
of national maritime legislation.
The above will be part of the continent’s long term vision for
the development of the blue economy, elaborated well in the Africa
Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM Strategy).
We must come together to deal with the complexity of the task
ahead. Challenges abound in the numerous negotiations, planning,
coordination and stakeholder engagement tasks that must be achieved
Investors will be convinced in participating in the African blue
economy, when some of the above are taken care of. The absence of
data, policy and legal frameworks will be obvious impediments to
the large-scale maritime infrastructure investments needed to
realize the ambitious goals of the 2050 AIM Strategy.
At the international Blue Economy conference that takes place in
Nairobi, many investors and countries will have an opportunity to
examine which sector of the blue economy they can realistically
focus public and private investments in.
With proper regulatory frameworks, the blue economy sector will
not only present pathways out of poverty for the continent, but
they will also ensure an environmentally sustainable future.
The Blue Economy can be a driver of Africa’s structural
transformation, sustainable economic progress, and social
Toshitsugu Uesawa is Japan’s Ambassador to Kenya and
Siddharth Chatterjee is the UN Resident
Coordinator to Kenya.
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Africa’s Giant Blue Economy Potential