Aligning Africa’s Maritime Ambitions with Broader Indian Ocean Regionalism

Image: Flickr, Stanley Zimny

Blue Economy initiatives have proliferated in recent years, reflecting the growing prioritisation of maritime affairs within the policymaking community.

Sustainability concerns related to climate change, pollution and fishing practices are an important component of this engagement, but there is equally an emphasis on the economic potential that improved ocean governance offers through, for example, shipping, offshore oil and gas, tourism and fisheries. Maritime security is also a prerequisite for the flourishing of this economy.

Despite the adoption of a range of Blue Economy strategies and initiatives, implementing a coherent and integrated approach to the Blue Economy presents numerous challenges. Key among these is the fact that it covers a diverse range of sectors and issues, many of which are engaged with sector-specific programmes or strategies. As Blue Economy initiatives increase there is a risk that efforts will be duplicated and inefficiencies will creep into co-operation efforts. In this regard, the networking, monitoring and reporting functions of these initiatives are important. The AU’s ‘2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy’ (2050 AIM Strategy) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s (IORA) Blue Economy initiative could support each other and strengthen both environmental governance and the growth of maritime industries. However, this will require bolstering institutional capacity and enhancing the communication and networking functions of these bodies.

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