Africa and the adjacent island States have been urged to harness ocean science and research to optimally utilise the huge untapped potential of the blue economy.
Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy Principal Secretary Prof Micheni Ntiba said experts from the region and partners should deliberate on ways to enable the maritime sector make its rightful contribution to the economy and help boost livelihoods.
Kenya, he said, has offered its oceanographic research vessel, the RV Mtafiti for regional cruises in the framework of the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (2015-2020).
Also, Prof Ntiba said the regional training centre for the Ocean Teacher Global Academy programme, hosted by the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute has provided training on a wide range of ocean-related topics to scientists from the region.
He was speaking at the regional consultation workshop for Africa and the adjacent island States on the United Nation’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi,
The stakeholders at the forum decried lack of marine capacity in Africa, saying the continent lags behind in both human and infrastructure for ocean science and research.
“Important area of focus include the development of capacities for marine science and technology, address the development of an African Ocean Observing System contributing to human and economic security and ensure that the information generated from such a system would enable us manage our resources better, by providing input for improved weather prediction, to mitigate the impacts of ocean related hazards such as cyclones and storm surges on our coastal populations,” the PS said.
The region, the PS insisted must sustainably harness the vast developmental and wealth creation opportunities provided by the blue economy resources that Africa is “immensely endowed with”.
Prof Ntiba said Africa’s blue economy, will be a major contributor to continental transformation and growth.
“It will be a tool in advancing knowledge on marine and aquatic biotechnology, the growth of an Africa-wide shipping industry, the development of sea, river and lake transport and fishing; and exploitation of deep sea mineral and other resources,” the PS said.
The African Union has also adopted 2050 African Integrated Marine Strategic Plan of Action (AIMS2050), which provides a roadmap for increased wealth creation from Africa’s oceans and seas by developing a sustainable thriving blue economy.