Africa project to tap ocean potential, SA's Phakisa takes off

Cape Town – A new pan-African project has been launched to strengthen the continent’s potential for increased trade in fish.

As a continent Africa is endowed with vast fish resources in its oceans, rivers, lakes, floodplains, and fish farms. Africa currently produces 9.9 million tons of fish per year. Its share of global trade only represents 4.9%.

According to WorldFish, a nonprofit research organisation which sets out to harness the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty, “trade is constrained by inadequate market and trade infrastructure and poor policy implementation”.

“High transport costs, complex and unaligned trade rules and poor market information also prevent Africa from optimising the social and economic benefits available,” it said in a media release.

READ: Zuma: Oceans could add one million jobs

“More efficient trade could significantly improve income and nutrition for millions of Africans, particularly those 12.3 million that are directly employed in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.”

Director General of WorldFish, Stephen J Hall, says “Africa has the potential to develop its fisheries and aquaculture to play a much greater role in promoting food security, providing livelihoods and supporting economic growth”.

“Per capita consumption has fallen, despite Africa’s great abundance of aquatic resources. FishTrade will create the foundations for a more solid, productive and sustainable building-up of this great, continent-wide, resource,” Hall said.

Operation Phakisa

At the same time South Africa is in the process of mainstreaming its operation Phakisa, which sets out to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans.

At the launch President Jacob Zuma said the government chose the ocean economy with good reason. “South Africa is uniquely bordered by the ocean on three sides – east, south and west. With the inclusion of Prince Edward and Marion Islands in the southern ocean, the coastline is approximately 3 924km long,” he told the delegates at the launch of the initiative.

“The ocean has a potential to contribute to the GDP up to R177bn. The ocean also has a potential to contribute between eight hundred and one million direct jobs,” Zuma said.

South Africa’s oceans contributed around R54bn to the country’s GDP in 2010 and accounted for approximately 316 000 jobs.