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Why Africa needs to think of the Blue Economy and stop relying mostly on Agriculture

by Milicent Atieno
blue economy

A growing number of countries in Africa are now embracing the blue economy. A sector that has largely been neglected in many of the countries on the continent. Whatever activity that has been going on is can be described as little to nothing compared to the scale of activities countries like China, Japan, and the U.S. have been doing in the blue economy.

Currently, there is an ongoing campaign to sensitize the general public and get investors (and the government) to look towards the blue economy for wealth creation. Already, countries like Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya have made impressive steps towards exploiting this economy.

The governments of the said countries have established institutions that will spearhead the exploitation of the blue economy; ministries such as Finance, Trade, and the Blue Economy. All in an effort to diversify their economies.

The African Union has also adopted the blue economy, which is about exploiting resources such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, into its 2063 development agenda for socio-economic transformation,” said Danson Mwangangi, independent economic researcher, and analysts, while addressing IPS.

Mwangangi further said African agrarian economies like Kenya will not rely on “agriculture alone,” as it will not be sufficient to drive their economies, especially in this industrial and tech-driven world. Already, the agriculture industry is facing a lot of challenges, ranging from shrinking farmlands, unpredictable weather, the unstable price of produce in the market and pest infestations.

According to the World Bank, in 2017 Kenya’s maize production dropped by between 20-30 percent. That was attributed to insufficient rainfall and armyworm infestation in that planting season. Beside those challenges, Kenya still has an annual shortage of eight million bags annually.

Kenya is just one example, most African countries more or less share the same fate in the agriculture business. For that reason, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the 2018 Policy Brief have made a strong case in favor of the blue economy. Economic experts like Mwangangi strongly believe exploitation of the sector will boost Africa’s economy.

Additionally, ocean waters can be used to create energy (renewable energy for that matter), and the continent’s waters have the potential of producing 400 percent of the current energy demand on the continent. That is according to the International Energy Agency.

Seventy percent of African countries are either coastal or islands, we need to harness such valuable coastlines,” said Caesar Bita, the head of underwater archaeology at the National Museums of Kenya.

Bita told IPS that the lives of communities living near water bodies could improve their socio-economic standing if they harness the potential of the blue economy.

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