GIS – 19 September 2018: The 24th Session of the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts (ICE) of Southern Africa Meeting at Senior Officials level focusing on the theme Blue Economy, Inclusive Industrialisation and Economic Development in Southern Africa opened yesterday at Le Méridien Hotel in Pointe aux Piments.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, the Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Southern Africa Regional Office, Mr Said Adejumobi, and several other eminent personalities were present on the occasion.
In his keynote address, Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo highlighted the importance of protecting the oceans as well as promoting the sustainable use of seas and marine resources. He emphasised that the increasingly adverse impacts of illegal fishing and marine pollution are jeopardising the protection of the sea waters. The conservation of the ocean therefore is crucial so as to boosting job creation and developing the blue economy while respecting the marine ecosystem, he added.
The Minister further pointed out that Mauritius should tap into the various opportunities by focusing on regional economic cooperation and positioning itself as a gateway to the African continent so as to enhance South-South cooperation thus achieving a win-win situation.
On this score, he dwelt on the need for the country to develop new facilities in the fisheries sector with a fishing port having a modern storage system that can significantly help to increase seafood production. He underscored that the Small and Medium Enterprises should be encouraged to be key players in the industrialisation process and eventually contribute to the socio-economic growth of the country.
For his part, the Director of UNECA, Mr Said Adejumobi, underlined that the blue economy can be defined as Africa's hidden treasure as it consists of a vast array of coastal water and maritime resources, which can serve as sources of food, energy, mineral extraction, leisure, good health, science, innovation and technology. The blue economy, if used wisely can be the engines of economic growth and industrialisation for many African countries, he said.
Mr Adejumobi stressed that while Africa is essentially a coastal region, with around 38 coastal states, the coastal sector remains largely underdeveloped and under-utilised which has enabled other forces to benefit from the resources. He therefore calls for an integrated and holistic approach which will lead to the transformation of the blue economy sector.
24th Session of the ICE
The 24th Session of the ICE, being held from 18 to 21 September 2018, focuses on the blue economy opportunities and challenges in Southern Africa and the prospects for fostering inclusive industrialisation and sustainable development in the region and mechanisms as well as strategies to address identified challenges. The meeting will also engage on how land-linked and land-locked countries can be part of, and benefit from the value chain of production in the blue economy sector.