Blue Economy: The New Frontier for Africa’s Growth & How Japan Can Help

From Left to Right: Ambassador Masahiko Kiya, the Ambassador for
TICAD 7,MOFA Japan, Ambassador Soloman Maina, Kenya’s ambassador
to Japan and Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations Resident
Coordinator to Kenya. Credit: Kenya Embassy 10 January 2019

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 8 2019 (IPS)

1. Why Blue Economy in Africa? What potentials does
Africa have?

The blue economy in Africa is neglected, ignored or
underexploited, but it can offer a range of African solutions to
African economic problems. More than one-quarter of Africa’s
population lives within 100km of the coast and derive their
livelihoods there. According to the International Energy Agency
(IEA), by 2020, the annual economic value of energy activities
related to maritime affairs will reach EUR 2.5bn.1
Out of the 54 African countries, 34 are coastal countries and over
90% of African exports and imports are transported by sea. The
territorial waters under African jurisdiction cover a surface area
of 13 million km², with a continental shelf of some 6.5 million
km² comprising exclusive economic zones (EEZ). The continent
covers 17% of the world’s surface water resources. The strategic
dimension of the blue economy is an indisputable reality for
African countries. It is for this reason that it has been included
in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and that a practical handbook
on the blue economy was prepared by the United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa in March 2016.

According to an FAO study, the total gross added value of the
fisheries and aquaculture sector in Africa is estimated at USD
24bn, i.e. 1.6% of the GDP of all African
countries.2 Still according to FAO, this sector
employs some 12.3 million people, but is largely underexploited.
There is a need to professionalize the aquaculture and fisheries

By any standards, Africa is at least underusing, possibly even
drastically wasting, its blue economy potential. This must be
rectified. By some estimates, the African maritime industry is
already worth USD 1 trillion annually. But, with the right economic
policies implemented, it could triple in just two years.

2. Why is Japan needed? What advantage does Japan have
to be a partner country?

Japan is essentially a Blue economy and a global economic giant.
Africa can learn and benefit from Japan. Let me start by commending
Japan for co-hosting the Blue Economy Conference with Kenya and
Canada in Nairobi in 2018.

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 sector.

Kenya co-hosted the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC)
between the 26th and 28th November 2018 with Canada and
Japan.3 SBEC aimed to make progress towards
safeguarding and developing the world’s water bodies and the
ecosystems that live therein. The conference hosted over 17,000
participants from 184 countries and sought to exploit the potential
of oceans, seas, rivers, lakes by leveraging on the latest
scientific knowledge and innovation while ensuring the proper
conservation of the aquatic resources for generations to come.
During the conference, President of Kenya Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta made
several pledges including enhancing security in the high seas,
combating illegal fishing while supporting sustainable and
responsible fishing of endangered species and key fish stocks,
among other things.

Japan’s support to the Blue economy will ensure that the
Blue/ocean economy, will be “a major contributor to continental
transformation and growth” as envisaged in the Agenda 2063,
Furthermore the sector will benefit from Japanese expertise in
maritime security and safety. Japan has proven expertise and
demonstrated real contributions in ensuring freedom and safety of
navigation, as witnessed by Japanese contributions to improving
navigation safety in the Straits of Malacca.

I actually see Kenya as a gateway to Africa. Kenya has the
ports. It has the infrastructure. It is interconnected. It is a
beacon of hope in a region of instability. In fact it represents
everything that we want to see happen all across Africa. And
therefore to me Kenya becomes even more crucial in becoming the
convener and the facilitator of the entire Blue Economy

We as the UN family stand ready to support Japan in advancing a
sustainable Blue Economy in Kenya.

3. What opportunities does Japanese companies have? How
should Japan be involved in developing Blue Economy?

There five areas where Japan’s ocean industry expertise could
be shared to promote the blue economy in the Africa

i. Most African states are looking
seaward for alternative non-conventional renewable sources of
energy. There’s interest in offshore solar power as having high
potential as a major source of energy. Japan private sector can
help here. Japan’s largest solar power plant, the Kyocera
Corporation’s Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, is an
offshore technology built on reclaimed land jutting the waters of
Kagoshima Bay, generating 70 MW of energy in Kagoshima City. The
project has an annual power generation capacity of 78,800MWh and is
expected to supply clean electricity to approximately 22,000
average households.

ii. While there’s been no commercial developments to date
there’s still international interest in deep-sea mining in the
Indian Ocean. For polymetallic nodules, Japan is a pioneer investor
in the Indian Ocean and the International Seabed Authority entered
into contract with Japan after the Law of the Sea Convention came
into effect. Japan can help with mining technology, processing
technology and environmental impact assessment. There’s also
growing interest in developments in relation to deep water gas
hydrates energy reserves (reservoirs of gas trapped in ice
crystals) where Japan is at the cutting edge. India and Japan last
year carried out a joint survey for gas hydrates using a Japanese
drilling ship in the Indian Ocean. Japan has set itself the target
of bringing methane hydrates into the mainstream by the early
2020s. Prime Minister Modi has listed work on gas hydrates among
the top 10 potential areas of research for India.

iii. R&D in marine biotechnology is emerging as a promising
sector for growth and employment in the Indian Ocean. The Indian
Ocean region is rich in marine biodiversity: we’re likely to see
the realisation of marine biotechnology potential, including the
culture of a range of marine organisms for biofuels, bioremediation
and bioproducts.

iv. Aquaculture is a key driver of the Blue Economy in the
Indian Ocean providing food, nutrition and employment opportunities
to the people in the region. Since capture fisheries face the
problem of overfishing in the region, the challenges of food
security can be addressed through aquaculture production.
Aquaculture has the potential to transform the global food system
for the better. Japan has tremendous skills in this industry and
can assist African states in developing aquaculture systems that
expand the range of foods and the nutritional content of those
foods, while ensuring that the industry is economically and
environmentally sustainable.

v. Japan can strengthen the digital blue economy in the Indian
Ocean: the undersea cables and the electronic services that they
can enable, such as broadband and data exchange. Japan can
contribute to the growing digital fabric connecting the Indian
Ocean: it’s got some of world’s top vendors of submarine cable

4. What do you expect for TICAD 7? Could you tell us on
what you are working with Japanese government for the

UNDP is the longest serving co-organizer of TICAD process with
the Government of Japan. Co-organizing TICAD process provides Japan
and UNDP with important strategic advantages, including: (1)
facilitating global discourse on Africa’s development; (2)
promoting innovative partnerships; (3) Enhancing integration of the
UN Development System; and (4) Enhancing strategic partnerships
with Japan in Africa as the key driver of the corporate strategic
partnership with Japan.

In addition to the issues raised above, we expect TICAD 7 to
promote Africa’s blue/ocean economy to enhance sustainable use of
marine resources, developing port facilities and facilitating
marine transport. Furthermore we expect the issue of Africa’s
infrastructure and connectivity to be high on the TICAD 7 Agenda as
this will unlock the construction and management of quality
transport infrastructure, such as ports, maritime corridors,
airports, railroads, bridges and trunk roads that are efficient in
view of life-cycle cost, reliable, safe, resilient against natural
disasters and environmentally friendly, to strengthen connectivity
in Africa, utilizing state of the art infrastructure

5. What challenges does Africa have to develop Blue
Economy? What infrastructures/rules/policies are

From concerns around environmental sustainability to the dangers
of corruption and a dearth of actionable data, policymakers need
vast resources to get to grips with large swathes of their own

There are also challenges related to climate change, rising sea
temperatures, ocean acidification and rising sea levels.

There are current conflicts driven by lack of demarcation of
maritime and aquatic boundaries. This has been a constant source of
tensions between neighbouring countries, not only threating any
long-term investment considerations, but also leading to
irresponsible use of resources.

The continent needs to fast-track resolution of disputes and
strengthen their maritime and riparian cooperation mechanisms. This
will provide grounds for working on interstate economies of scale
and develop strategies for bridging technical and infrastructure
gaps among States.

In line with SDG 14, development of this sector must also
promote social inclusion while ensuring environmental
sustainability. In this respect, the continent owes special
consideration to people living along the shores of oceans, lakes
and rivers, essentially youth and women. The question of how this
new frontier can address poverty reduction and hunger when leaving
no one behind must be a central consideration. We need to be able
to govern resources effectively and be able to utilise them in a
way that’s transparent and inclusive.

Equally daunting is required transboundary negotiation among at
least 38 African countries, intensive planning, intersectoral
planning, intragovernmental coordination, extensive training and
complex multi-stakeholder engagement.

The African Union has launched its 2050 Integrated Maritime
Strategy in a bid to provide a broad framework for the protection
and sustainable exploitation of Africa’s marine resources. At its
heart lies the creation of a Combined Exclusive Maritime Zone of
Africa (CEMZA), a common maritime space intended to boost trade,
protect the environment and fisheries, share information and boost
border protection and defence activities.

1 See Energy Technology Perspectives 2012,
Pathways to a Clean Energy System, available at
2 See FAO, (2014). The Value of African Fisheries,
available at
3 Japan joined Canada and Kenya in co-hosting SBEC
and provided KEN Sh300 million funding for the conference;
4 See Anthony Bergin (2016). A vision in blue:
Japan and the Indian Ocean, available at

The post
Blue Economy: The New Frontier for Africa’s Growth & How
Japan Can Help
appeared first on Inter Press Service.


An interview with Siddharth Chatterjee UN Resident Coordinator
to Kenya by Nikkei Shimbun, Japan and reproduced by IPS.

The post
Blue Economy: The New Frontier for Africa’s Growth & How
Japan Can Help
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Blue Economy: The New Frontier for Africa’s Growth & How Japan Can Help