Africa has 38 coastal countries and six islands whose maritime industry is estimated to be worth US$1 trillion per year. This figure will increase as they develop their offshore hydrocarbon, energy, tourism, maritime transport, shipping and fishing sectors. These industries are collectively called the “blue economy”. They are recognised as central to Africa’s sustainable development. They can also play a key role in achieving the continent’s Agenda 2063. This includes achieving integration, prosperity and peace. But for this to happen, it’s important that the benefits are equally distributed. And resources must be used in a way that’s ecologically sustainable. Researchers reviewed nine case studies of blue economy projects across the continent. The nine projects we looked at affected 11 countries. These were Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Namibia, The Gambia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. Three of the case studies were from Kenya, while one cut across five countries. Researchers found that successful initiatives accentuated the involvement of local communities and promoted sustenance of natural ecosystems. They successfully balanced ecological, social and economic features. This happened through the active engagement of the government, and other stakeholders, with local communities. Unsuccessful projects were likely to exclude local communities in the process and undermined their livelihoods. They also tended to prioritise economic gains at the expense of the environment. These projects included the development of port infrastructure and marine phosphate mining.
SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION