Antananarivo – Madagascar, 3 March 2015 (ECA) -The four-day meeting that started on 2 March at the Carlton Hotel of Madagascar is the 19th Session of Intergovernmental Committee of Experts of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Eastern Africa and has as the theme: Harnessing the Blue Economy for Eastern Africa’s Development.
The meeting is looking at the abundant opportunities offered by waters, seas and oceans to accelerate structural transformation in countries of Eastern Africa.
Antonio Pedro, the Director of UNECA in Eastern Africa says that the Blue Economy is a timely framework to coordinate policy action in many sectors and institute integrated development plans. “The blue economy encompasses among others: mining, energy resources, fisheries and marine life, tourism and maritime transportation and trade and several other developmental sectors” he says.
According to the Seychelles Deputy President Danny Faure, “The Blue economy is Africa’s future”.
The Africa’s Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 states that “Africa’s Blue economy, which is three times the size of its landmass, shall be a major contributor to continental transformation and growth”.
UNECA says that the labour productivity of sectors directly or indirectly connected to the Blue Economy in Eastern Africa is consistently higher than the economy-wide average.
For instance, the fishing sector is 26% more productive than the overall average in Tanzania, about 150% in Uganda, and more than 500% in Madagascar. This gives opportunity to linking the Blue Economy sectors, with high productivity potential, to accelerating structural transformation, primarily in Coastal and Island States in the region.
Participants in Antananarivo’s meeting are discussing different dimensions of the blue economy including the regional ability to patrol its waters effectively and stream the negative impact of illegal fishing, capacity requirement to enable Eastern African states to tap into the immense reservoir of energy and marine resources concealed in the Sea, and appropriate management of maritime transport and trade, which is an aspect of significant interest to both landlocked and coastal countries. (Over 90% of global trade is undertaken through this mode).
This gathering draws together more than 200 representatives of the fourteen member States served by UNECA in Eastern Africa office, experts from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and members of international and national media, research centres, academia and other stakeholders.
The formulation of a charter encompassing a set of key principles to guide the effective harnessing of the blue economy will be one of the outcomes of the meeting.
Note to the editors
Eastern Africa region is a bloc of 14 countries that include: Burundi, Comoros, D.R Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
This region is among the fastest growing regions in Africa in the last decade. The region's real GDP grew at an estimated 6.6% during the period 2009 to 2014. This is 3.7% faster than the African average and three times faster than the world average of 2%.
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