Asmara. Experts have urged African countries to pay close attention to marine resources which - they say - have the potential to fill economic gaps which currently challenge their economies.
The blue economy - which covers fishing, offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine transportation services and salt harvesting - is said to require collective efforts by the countries if the desired outcomes are to be realised.
The experts - who are attending the 23rd meeting of the intergovernmental committee of experts and senior officials - touted the sector that has not been contributing much to the economy.
“There is a lot of pressure from the lands and we now need to explore more from the waters, but we must ensure there is sustainability,” said Mr Dave Muli, the regional coordinator of International Maritime Organisation for East and Southern Africa.
He said the UN specialized agency welcomes requests from countries to cooperate in exploiting the resources.
The experts stressed on the need for collaborations among countries to achieve the desired targets. “We need to plan together so that we can see the desired outcomes,” said Mr Eshete Dejen, blue economy coordinator at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).
Eritrea made a presentation on its blue economy situation, revealing that it contributes between two and three per cent of the its gross domestic product (GDP).
Prof Joseph Chisasa from the University of South Africa said the sector has a huge potential to offer solutions to the macroeconomic challenges plaguing most African countries.
“I think the blue economy should stand alone as a portfolio, instead of the current status whereby many governments treat it as part of agriculture,” he argued - appreciating Seychelles for doing so.
The experts and government officials shared their experiences of the steps they are taking towards sustainable blue economic development.