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African countries leveraging on Blue Economy

With 38 coastal and island states, 13 million kilometres squared of collective exclusive economic zones and a coastline of more than 47,000 km ,there is an enormous untapped potential for the African continent to develop the  “blue economy.” More than 12 million people are employed in fisheries alone, the largest of the African blue economy sectors, providing food security and nutrition for more than 200 million people and generating value added estimated at 1.26 per cent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product. Below are Africa’s countries leveraging on the Blue Economy to upscale their GDP according to Coastal Oceans Research and Development-Indian Ocean.


The ocean economy accounted for approximately 15 per cent of Mauritius’s GDP and 20,000 jobs, figures that the government would like to double by 2030 through a combination of Foreign Direct Investment and technological innovation.

FDI opportunities in the ocean economy include ports and shipping, fisheries, seafood, smart marine aquaculture, coastal and marine tourism, aqua farming, ocean renewable energies, seabed mining and minerals extraction. In Mauritius the Blue Economy has been identified as one of the pillars of its economic development.


Seychelles has embraced the Blue Economy to sustain economic development. The Republic of Seychelles comprises of 115 islands spread over an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.4 million km squared. 99.96 per cent of Seychelles is ocean-based, with a land area of only about 454km squared.

Projects such as Fisheries Management Plans and an Aquaculture Master Plan are contributing towards the national development process. The island nation is keen to address high value jobs and food security through water resource.

South Africa

South Africa has a coastline of 3,000km in three oceans (Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans) with 30 per cent of the populace settled along the Coast. It has eight commercial ports and 12 fishing harbours employing around 15,000 people.

Maritime trade in South Africa contributes about 50 per cent to the GDP with 98 per cent of SA trade by volume and 80 per cent trade value carried out by sea with the trade generating an estimated Sh12 billion annually.


The blue economy and industrialisation are potential drivers of sustainable and inclusive growth in Madagascar. Growth is accelerating in the country, rising from 3.1 per cent in 2015 to 4.3 per cent last year.

Madagascar has immense potential in terms of natural capital: natural resource represent 12.8 per cent of its GDP in 2015 (compared to 1.7 per cent for the rest of the world). Madagascar annual economic output from the ocean in 2015 was valued at $1.6 billion (Sh100.6 billion) or 15 per cent of the GDP and is the sixth largest in the region.


The Southern African country is endowed with a long coastline scattered with popular beaches and offshore marine parks which protect rare marine life including dugongs.

Mozambique annual economic output from the ocean in 2015  was estimated at $2.7 billion (Sh27 billion) and ranks second regionally after South Africa. Mozambique income from the coastline is higher than income from the ocean but more than 50 per cent of it’s coastline value is from carbon sequestration, yet to be implemented.


Comoros annual economic output from the ocean in 2015 was valued at $0.2 billion (Sh2 billion). As a small island state, Comoros economy is 28 per cent dependent on the ocean.

The contribution of direct outputs – fisheries – at 30 per cent of the ocean economy, is also among the highest in the region whereas the general ocean economy for Comoros is equivalent to output from agriculture and greater than exports. The high contribution of carbon sequestration emphasises the benefits Comoros can derive once carbon markets are established.


Despite being largely desert, Morocco is ranked in the world largest marine producers. A total output of 916,988 tonnes of fish was captured in the high seas in 2003, before increasing its catch to 946,881 tonnes in 2011 and 1.2 million tonnes in 2012.

The fisheries sector accounts for three per cent of Morocco’s GDP. The government estimates the number of direct and indirect jobs at 400,000. The fishing industry is a leading foreign exchange earner, accounting for 56 per cent of agricultural and 16 per cent of total exports.


Kenya is gradually diversifying her sources of growth by pursuing the Blue Economy and only focused on fisheries both for domestic and export markets.

Fisheries account for only about 0.5 per cent of the GDP generating employment for more than two million people through fishing, boat building, equipment repair, fish processing, and other ancillary activities from sources such as the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria.

Therefore, the full economic potential of marine resource has not been wholesomely exploited, given that Kenya has a maritime territory of 230,000 sq km and a distance of 200 nautical miles offshore, which is equivalent to 31 of the 47 counties.


Tanzania earns approximately $2.7 billion (Sh27 billion) per year from its ocean less than five per cent of its national GDP. Carbon sequestration and tourism are the major ocean assets despite nonexistence of real carbon market to translate this asset into real income.

Tanzania dependence on ocean wealth is relatively low exceeded by exports and agriculture while marine tourism is the second most important ocean sector accounting for more than 30 per cent of real income followed by industrial fisheries.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s shoreline is approximately 560km long and includes the estuaries of three large river networks and four coastal islands with a total coverage area of 25,000 sq km. The fishing industry consists of two sectors, the industrial and the artisanal.

Fish is an important part of the diet, supplying about 80 per cent of the total consumption of animal protein. Annual production is currently estimated at 20,000 tonnes with a fisherman earning an estimated $3,000 (Sh307,230.4) annually.

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