Africa’s “Blue Economy” Seen As Next Frontier Market

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By Timothy Nerozzi

July 2, 2019

If you are looking for an emerging business opportunity in Africa forget the Serengeti and think about the sea. A growing number of business leaders believe Africa’s next business opportunity might be literally located offshore

The Africa Blue Economy Forum met last month in Tunis for its second annual meeting. Attendees included UN representatives, maritime lawyers, CEOs, and journalists with the objective of discussing policy changes and guidelines for African coastal economies.

A “blue economy” is a term used to describe preservation and stewardship of marine environments and fauna by companies and governments involved in nautical businesses.

The first such forum was held last June in London and has emerged as an important forum to discuss the Blue Economy in Africa.

African coastal nations do more than 90 percent of their domestic and international trading by sea, making their impact on regional marine ecosystems substantial.

“We can no longer just dip our toe in the water, we must dive in and be decisive in making and delivering change that will serve Africa for many years to come,” Leila Ben Hassen, CEO of Blue Jay Communication, the company that organized the forum. “It is no longer business as usual. Africa must have a sustainable Blue Business plan which will have a positive impact on the environment, on the economy, and on society.”

There has been much debate over what exactly a Blue Economy entails, or how it can be defined.

World Bank Group, an international financial institution aimed at making leveraged loans to developing nations, described the Blue Economy in a 2017 campaign.

“The Blue Economy is sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health,” said World Bank Group.

Last year, however, the World Wildlife Fund criticized the term’s usage as vague and undefined in their publication “Principals for a Sustainable Blue Economy.”

“Despite increasing high-level adoption of the Blue Economy as a concept and as a goal of policy-making and investment, there is still no widely accepted definition of the term,” said WWF.

In press releases, Hassen emphasized the need for collaboration between private companies and governmental bodies.

“Governments are beginning to understand this and beginning to implement policies but it still needs the private sector to grasp this and to look at how they can work in partnership with governments and other organizations to make this succeed,” said Hassen. “Collaboration is necessary to make this work and deliver huge benefits for the continent enabling it to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”