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Africa Blue Economy debuts, attracts experts, officials of governments

The African continent needs to work
together on a country and regional level to put in place and, more crucially,
implement a sustainable maritime governance system that will benefit the whole
continent, concluded delegates at the first Africa Blue Economy Forum (ABEF)

ABEF 2018 took place in London on 8 June, 2018 to coincide with World
Oceans Day. The Forum attracted international experts and African government
ministers to debate the economic contribution of oceans in the context of the
African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs).
Paul Holthus, CEO of the World Ocean Council and keynote speaker at ABEF
2018, remarked: “Africa presents major blue economy investment opportunities
and also sustainable development challenges. We are working to bring together
ocean business community leadership and collaboration in Africa to address both
these opportunities and challenges.”
Speaking on the panel discussing, ‘The blue economy and ocean
financing’, Gregor Paterson-Jones, an independent expert on renewable energy
investment, said: “The blue economy is not a uniform theme. The green economy
is more easily defined, because it relates to ‘clean’ energies. The blue
economy has multiple sectors with different types of investment opportunities.
I always say blue is the new green.”
A strong focus on action was prevalent throughout discussions at ABEF.
David Luke, Coordinator, African Trade Policy Centre, United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa, remarked: “Because the blue economy is such a broad
concept, we need to bring coherence to it. As far as Africa is concerned, we
need to be part of the change we see happening on the continent for the blue
economy to have traction.”
Stanislas Baba, Minister-Counsellor to the President of the Togolese
Republic, said: “Trade is an unexploited resource in Africa, but the blue
economy has to be handled carefully. $350 million is lost each year in Africa
due to illegal fishing. We can combat poverty by using our seas.”
Achieving a regional approach will not be easy, noted Yonov Frederick
Agah, Deputy Director General, World Trade Organization. “One of the problems
we have in Africa is that we don’t like ideas,” he remarked. ”Blueprint
programmes are lying on the shelf. Integration means letting go of certain
Speakers and delegates at ABEF 2018 agreed on the need for innovative
financing to start developing the Africa blue economy on a wider scale, not
only from governments, but also the private sector. Relevant data and more
research are required to shape policies, especially with regard to climate
change. Focusing on educating Africa’s youth is also key to shaping the blue
economy, which has the capacity to provide desperately needed jobs for the
younger generation across the continent.
Leila Ben Hassen, Founder and CEO of ABEF organiser, Blue Jay
Communication, commented: “The blue economy is not simply the responsibility of
the 38 African coastal countries, but is also highly relevant to their
landlocked neighbours. We must all contribute to put the blue economy into
action, to help reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and assure sustainable
socio-economic development.”

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