African leaders and policymakers have called for strategies to harness the potential of the blue economy to achieve sustainable development. The call came at a high-level conference hosted by the Government of Mozambique on 18 and 19 November in the City of Vilanculos. The theme was Investing in Ocean Health is Securing the Planet’s Future.
Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi hosted the event, attended by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ministers from other countries and leading policymakers from Africa. African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina delivered a virtual message during the opening ceremony, highlighting the potential of blue economy initiatives. “The continent has maritime zones that stretch 13 million square kilometers, encompassing territorial seas and continental shelves that also stretch up to 6.5 million kilometers. And 38 African countries are coastal,” he said.
Adesina said there was an urgent need to revive the livelihoods of fishing communities. “This can be achieved by governments and the private sector prioritizing enabling policies, and providing access to modern fishing fleets, cold storage and processing facilities, and investing in infrastructure and climate advisory services to support climate-smart fishing practices.”
Leïla Mokaddem, the Director General for the Bank’s Southern Africa Region, represented President Adesina in person at the event. She said the Bank would continue to help Mozambique unlock its blue economy potential in the post-pandemic era by supporting regional approaches to coastal resilience and transboundary fisheries management in the Mozambique Channel and Indian Ocean region through the Southern African Development Community Secretariat.
Mozambique has the third-longest coastline in Africa, with enormous coastal resources that contribute significantly to the economy, including marine parks that provide social and economic benefits for about half the population.
Mokaddem, who led the African Development Bank delegation at the conference, said the Bank was also co-financing one of the largest private sector investments, worth over $5 billion, in regional infrastructure development, through the construction of a rail corridor and the deep water Nacala port to facilitate maritime trade and market access.
The Bank team, which included Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo, Country Manager for Mozambique, reinforced the Bank’s commitment to building resilience against climate disasters in Mozambique, one of the 10 countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change. Within this scope, Mokaddem held bilateral meetings with the Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Augusta Maita, to discuss strategic cooperation to develop the blue economy.
Mozambique Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, acknowledged the Bank’s role in Mozambique: “The African Development Bank is one of the principal strategic partners of Mozambique in the development of infrastructure projects and in the context of the development of blue economy initiatives.”
The Minister hosted a high-level dialogue with Mokaddem and Bank staff on development projects in northern Mozambique, the transformation of the agriculture sector, the revision process of the 20-year economic development strategy and macroeconomic stability issues. Mokaddem also met with businesswomen to discuss their challenges and opportunities, and how to generate an economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.