October 27, 2023 (ENTEBBE, Uganda): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) yesterday wrapped-up its Blue Economy Project’s 2nd Steering Committee Meeting in Entebbe with field visits to Mahati Marine Transport Base and Kasenyi fishing landing site.

The National Focal Persons for Blue Economy, Fisheries Directors, Maritime Transport Experts and Tourism sector representatives from IGAD Member States, the Embassy of Sweden in Ethiopia, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization, AU-IBAR, and AUDA-NEPAD attended the three-day event under the theme: “Enhancing Blue Economy (BE) in the IGAD Member States for Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihoods Diversification”.

During two days, the members of the Committee shared information on:

  • The status of the use of BE resources in respective countries;
  • the status of project implementation of activities and challenges related to the IGAD Blue Economy project; and
  • information on planned and ongoing activities related to IGAD BE Project by relevant stakeholders.

During an inauguration ceremony for the meeting, in his capacity as Chair of the Steering Committee, Mr Moussa Ali Ahmed, from the Republic of Djibouti, welcomed everyone to the Steering Committee meeting. He started by appreciating the work that IGAD has done in assessing the BE situation in the region that necessitated the development of the regional BE Strategy. He stated that this has played a key role in reawakening the consciousness of BE sectors in Djibouti, including the involvement of the youth.

In his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Water Resources Monitoring and Assessment Department, Ministry of Water and Environment, Republic of Uganda, Dr. Zaake Benon, welcomed all participants to the Republic of Uganda. He highlighted that the Government of Uganda with support from this project prepared and validated its National Blue Economy Strategy in February 2022 here in Uganda. The Commissioner also noted that the Ugandan Blue Economy Strategy provides the nation with a unique opportunity to harness its natural resources in an inclusive, collaborative and coordinated manner to optimize the benefits while mitigating the risks amidst unforeseen challenges like climate change, global security, economic slowdown and natural disasters.

IGAD Head of Mission to Uganda, Mrs Lucy Daxbacher, stated: “I am gratified to note that starting with the 2018 Global Conference on Sustainable Blue Economy that was organized in Nairobi, Member States of the IGAD region have remained at the forefront of driving the agenda in the development of the Blue Economy. Studies have shown that both traditional and emerging blue economy sectors have significant but under-capitalised development potential due to under-investment of intellectual, technical and financial resources. This situation has to change if our region is to become more resilient. We urgently need to consider new ways of enhancing our rain-fed agricultural economies with blue economy production systems.”

Dr Senait Regassa of the Embassy of Sweden in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, added: “Currently, Sweden contributes to the implementation of several IGAD projects, one of which is the Project which brought us together here. The goal of the Swedish supported IGAD Blue Economy Project revolves around a sustainable Blue Economy that is environmentally friendly, conserves biodiversity and at the same time ensures not only economic growth but also sustainable livelihood diversification for communities who are dependent on it.”

The following recommendations for strategic direction of the project were made as the meeting closed:

  • A high-level dialogue for resource mobilisation to implement the national Blue Economy strategies of IGAD Member States;
  • Combating plastic pollution and engendering Blue Economy sectors;
  • Private sector engagement in Blue Economy; and
  • Engaging development partners on the possibility of a no-cost extension for the Project beyond June 2024 as COVID-19 had affected implementation pace.

IGAD Regional Blue Economy Strategy was endorsed by the IGAD Member States’ Ministers responsible for coordinating Blue Economy on April 1, 2022, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The IGAD Blue Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan intend to structure implementation of the Blue Economy at both national and regional levels, while fostering cooperation and regional integration not only, but also strengthening support to the member states to effectively translate policies into concrete actions. It will also contribute to the effective implementation of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy.