One of the problems we have in Africa is we don’t like ideas: WTO at ABEF

  • June 18, 2018

Every positive change – irrespective of the scale, demography or geography – begins with a dialogue.  And it is during the course of that dialogue that acknowledgement of the problem and then the solution to that problem emerge. In the first-ever Africa Blue Economy Forum, international experts and African governments and ministers came together in London, UK, to debate the economic contribution of oceans in the context of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event that took place on 8 June to coincide with the World Oceans Day saw a strong focus on ‘action’ and achieving a regional approach.  Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director General, World Trade Organisation, remarked, ‘One of the problems we have in Africa is that we don’t like ideas. Blueprint programmes are lying on the shelf. Integration means letting go of certain things.’

Paul Holthus, Chief Executive Officer of the World Ocean Council and keynote speaker at ABEF 2018, said, ‘Africa presents major blue economy investment opportunities and also sustainable development challenges. We are working to bring together ocean business community leadership and collaboration in Africa to address both these opportunities and challenges.’

Speaking on the panel discussing ‘The blue economy and ocean financing’, Gregor Paterson-Jones, an independent expert on renewable energy investment, said, ‘The blue economy is not a uniform theme. The green economy is more easily defined because it relates to ‘clean’ energies. The blue economy has multiple sectors with different types of investment opportunities. I always say blue is the new green.’

Speakers and delegates at ABEF 2018 agreed on the need for innovative financing to start developing the Africa blue economy on a wider scale, not only from governments but also the private sector. Relevant data and more research are required to shape policies, especially with regard to climate change. Focusing on educating Africa’s youth is also key to shaping the blue economy, which has the capacity to provide desperately needed jobs for the younger generation across the continent.

Leila Ben Hassen, Founder and CEO of ABEF organiser, Blue Jay Communication, commented, ‘The blue economy is not simply the responsibility of the 38 African coastal countries, but is also highly relevant to their landlocked neighbours. We must all contribute to put the blue economy into action, to help reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and assure sustainable socio-economic development.’

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