Experts set to discuss Africa’s maritime sector

Experts from Africa and beyond are set to discuss Africa’s maritime sector in Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire next month.

The meeting that will take place from 21-23 June 2017, is themed, ‘Governance of Maritime Resources and Activities for Sustainable Development in Africa.’ It is expected to open doors for a policy dialogue on how the continent is governing its maritime sector along with related issues.

The Royal Institute of International Affairs of Chatham House has been implementing a project that intends to help policy-makers, the commercial sector and others understand the changing dynamics of maritime security risk around the African coast.

The institute believes that piracy is a growing challenge, but so is crude oil theft, drugs smuggling and other forms of illegal activity with links into broader regional problems of corruption, insurgency and radicalization.

“Regional maritime security is important to the energy security of a number of international actors. At the same time maritime resources such as fish, aquaculture and intact ecosystems directly contribute to the livelihoods of many Africans,” the institute says.

During the three-day event, maritime experts from Africa and abroad will discuss ways of tackling some of the challenges facing ocean and sea governance in Africa, as Stephen Karingi, Director of ECA’s Capacity Development Division, explained.

“This continental forum will offer the opportunity to share national experiences and build common future strategies to better protect the maritime interests of African States in the spirit of the AU’s 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy for the Seas and Oceans.”

Mr. Karinigi said the meeting will enable international maritime organizations, major African regional and intergovernmental maritime institutions, and women’s groups in the maritime sector, to contribute to the discussion on ways and means of successfully tackling the challenge of ocean and sea governance in Africa.

By 2050, about one fourth of the world’s population will be living in Africa. This means that the immense potential offered by the seas and oceans presents both challenges and enormous opportunities for the social and economic development of the continent’s entire population and requires the formulation of substantive policies on governance.

Against this backdrop, Martin Ndendé, a Senior Regional Adviser at the ECA Capacity Development Division (CDD) expressed optimism about the outcome of the forthcoming Abidjan policy dialogue.

“This dialogue will ensure, amongst other things, that the various instruments developed within the AU for the governance of our oceans and seas are placed at the heart of the new maritime policies and regulations to be implemented at regional and national levels in Africa and that, in the future, ECA and our division (CDD) are able to furnish technical assistance to States so that they can put these instruments into operation on the ground.”

Mr. Ndendé added that they hope to raise awareness among member States of the urgent need to enhance the role of the blue economy in their development strategies and ensure the widest possible dissemination of international legal instruments and other useful economic tools in this domain, foremost among which is ‘Africa’s Blue Economy: A Policy Handbook,’ published by ECA in March 2016.

The meeting also provides an opportunity for CDD to engage actively with and become part of the ECA blue economy team, so that it can give full rein to its advisory role for the benefit of member States, and make a more effective contribution to capacity-building for African public officials and experts in the governance of the different maritime sectors.