June 16, 2023 (MOMBASA, Kenya): Over 200 representatives from more than 20 organizations, dedicatedto Africa’s thriving blue economy sector, including small-scale fisheries and aquatic biodiversityconservation, converged in a continental knowledge exchange. This transformative initiative aimed to unlock the continent’s immense potential « through mutual learning, innovation, adaptation, and collaboration, setting the stage for impac9ul development initiatives across Africa » emphasized Dev Phokeer, Director atthe Indian Ocean Commission.

Africa’s blue economy presents boundless opportunities for the continent’s progress. Spanning anexpansive exclusive economic zone of approximately 13 million square kilometers, Africa boasts acornucopia of marine riches, from abundant fisheries and minerals to renewable energy and hydrocarbon resources. Harnessing these resources sustainably holds the key to unlocking economic growth and driving job creation. Hellen Moepi-Guebama, Fisheries Officer at AU-IBAR, eloquently stated at the workshop, « that we are about to capture power by the horn as we have convened here to acquire knowledge » to manage efficiently these resources.

However, « amidst Africa’s wealth of blue economy knowledge and experiences, the documentation anddissemination of regional success stories have remained limited, hindering the potential for collectiveprogress » emphasized Dr Fatuma Adan, Head of Mission of IGAD in the Republic of Kenya. This gatheringpresented an unprecedented opportunity to bridge this knowledge divide.

Anticipation soared as Madev Balloo, Project Manager at the European Union, took the stage andexpressed the collective aspiration, stating, “We envision the establishment of a robust networkingmechanism through this knowledge-sharing workshop, eectively propagating best practices. Equally vital isensuring the enduring impact of our collective actions.”

Immersed in an environment designed to facilitate collaboration and deep reflection, the workshop’s agendaunfolded through four dynamic sessions. Participants captivated the audience with presentations unveilingtheir experiences and invaluable lessons learned. A team of expert rapporteurs then skillfully synthesized andintegrated these insights, fostering an enriching exchange of ideas. In the ensuing panel discussions,participants delved into the showcased achievements, igniting an atmosphere of intellectual fervor andcollective inspiration. The event culminated in dedicated exhibition spaces, where organizations interacted, forged connections, and kindled new partnerships, nurturing a vibrant network poised to drive sustainableaquatic resource management across Africa.

Co-organized by the Indian Ocean Commission’s ECOFISH programme – funded by the European Union-,IGAD’s Blue Economy project – funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency- , as well as AU-IBAR’s FishGov2 and Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy Project – funded by the European Union and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA),respectively -, this extraordinary workshop brought together a diverse tapestry of professional fishers, beneficiaries, experts, policymakers, fisheries project leaders, representatives from internationaldevelopment organizations, and media influencers from across the African continent. Their shared mission? To amplify their knowledge, celebrate best practices, and introduce groundbreaking ideas that will shape thesustainable management of Africa’s aquatic resources.

As the curtain fell on this transformative gathering, the stage was set for Africa’s blue economy to take centerstage, propelled by collaboration, innovation, and a unified vision for a prosperous and sustainable future.