Business Edge | The Blue Economy: Focus On East Africa

With thirty-eight coastal and island states, a coastline of over thirty-eight thousand kilometres, Africa has an enormous opportunity to develop the sectors typically associated with the blue economy. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development say that with efficient management, the sustainable exploitation of resources in the ocean, seas, lakes and rivers- also known as the blue economy, could contribute up to 1.5 trillion dollars to the global economy. The industries covered by the blue economy includes aquaculture, tourism, renewable energy, transport, seabed mining and many others. This episode of Business Edge is taking another look at the blue economy with a special focus on East Africa. Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun is joined by Aly Khan Satchu of Rich Management, also a macro-economist and Africa geo-economist.

The Indian Ocean is home to over a billion people from the horn of Africa all across Asia and beyond. In East Africa, sixty million people live a hundred kilometres or less from the ocean, thereby providing a unique opportunity for business and trade. In light of the coronavirus effect on trade and countries’ revenue, there’s a momentum drive to explore other opportunities in generating the much-needed inflow. “The COVID pandemic has focused minds and governments on the need to increase the revenue take. [The Blue Economy] is a low hanging fruit that has been there for a long time. Therefore there’s fresh impetus to try to exploit it in a sustainable manner.”

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However, this opportunity is fraught with threats. For one, even artisanal farmers whose livelihoods depend on fishing in the waters around their respective countries are losing out as a result of illegal overfishing by international trawlers. Aly Khan Satchu think it’s imperative that the government of those countries “It is now a matter of urgency …and absolutely critical… that they are empowered…and regain control of the fishing areas and… then incentivize local artisanal fishers.”

The maritime boundary dispute between Kenya and Somalia also poses a threat. There are one hundred and sixty thousand kilometres of maritime boundary being disputed. The International Court of Justice has got involved and is leaning towards Somalia and Kenya already has declared that it will not adhere to the ruling of the court. Such dispute is counterproductive Satchu says, as investors will steer clear of the region in the event of any conflict. Furthermore, were the court to go Kenya’s way, it will have a ripple effect on other countries south of it like Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.

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Watch the full discussion of the blue economy in East Africa on Business Edge discussion above.

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