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ECA chief pledges continued support for Africa’s blue economy

In her remarks during the Leaders Commitment Segment of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference on 26 November in Nairobi, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), pledged ECA’s continued readiness to “help Member States in developing their national Blue Economy strategies.”

She stated that the Commission will work together with the African Union (AU) to set up a Regional Blue Economy Framework, adding that the blue economy has significant potential to bolster the socio-economic transformation of the global economy.

“The wealth that can be generated from the ocean is conservatively valued at US$ 4 trillion, which is equivalent to the GDP of countries in East Asia and the Pacific in 2017. Goods and services account for an estimated $2.5 trillion of this amount annually,” Ms Songwe noted.

The three-day conference was organized under the theme “The blue economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developments,” with the leaders’ segment as its key feature.

The segment was attended by many leaders from across the globe, including heads of state and government, chair of the African Union Commission, heads of UN agencies and other international entities, who all pledged to mobilize the necessary will and resources to sustainably boost the blue economy.

Kenya’s president and host of the event, Uhuru Kenyatta, pledged to “lead from the front” by adopting “appropriate policies, strategies and mechanisms to harness the blue economy to re-energize our national economies and to create greater opportunities and jobs for our people.”

He urged world leaders to work together in managing global aquatic resources for sustainable global development.

President Kenyatta added, “We shall also aggressively combat illegal and unregulated as well as unreported fishing, and we have taken measures to ensure the security and safety of our collective waters.”

ECA’s Executive Secretary praised Mr. Kenyatta for the recent launch of the Kenya Coast Guard Service, which she said will “reinforce security in the region, assist in marine pollution prevention, and prevent Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing,” especially as Kenya reportedly loses an estimated 118 million USD annually due to IUU fishing in its waters.

Ms. Songwe pointed out that harnessing the potential of the blue economy for economic diversification and doing so in an inclusive manner is crucial in achieving the SDGs.

She also posited that the AfCFTA can go a long way to foster the development of Africa’s blue economy, given its role in facilitating the movement of goods and persons and in reducing the cost of trade between African countries.

ECA has been assisting Member States in developing different components of the Blue Economy. It has produced a guidebook titled “Africa’s Blue Economy: A policy handbook.” The handbook serves as a tool to assist Member States in developing their national strategies on Blue Economy.

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