Discover here African inspiring success stories on Blue Economy
A journey from artisanal fishing to international trade
In Senegal, the coast between Dakar and The Gambia has developed into a hotspot for octopus fishing. Since the 1980s, this traditional fishery on the “Little Coast” has supplied the Japanese and South Korean markets. In 2006, this activity stepped up a gear with the submersion of artificial reefs.
The artificial reefs technique was successfully deployed on the Japanese coast. It is precisely on the advice of Japanese buyers that some Senegalese fishermen took the initiative to immerse piles of clay pots, thus creating a habitat conducive to the development of local marine biodiversity, especially octopus.
Note that octopods lay eggs in holes along the rocky bottom, thus protecting their eggs from currents and predators. The pots, therefore, constitute alternative nurseries that are effective and beneficial to the development of their populations.
This system promotes increased catches, both in quantity and quality. It is no wonder that the local artisanal fisheries Council does not hesitate to generalize this technique, which is gradually spreading along the Little Coast.
“From 300 submerged pots in 2006, we increased to 15,000 pots in 2019 and 2020, and 20,000 in 2021,” explains Ndiaga Cissé, director of the local artisanal fisheries Council. “It is a sector that has become important and which improves the incomes of many people: fishermen, fishmongers, transporters, and exporters. Not to mention the 300 women who make the clay pots. "
Women's economic group
Senegalese fishermen decided to use traditional clay pots from the region, rather than using imported plastic pots, essentially for ecological reasons but also to limit costs.
The pots are made by f a women's economic interest group. The production of these pots will remain sustainable because the earthen pots, once submerged, are replaced every two to three years.
This economic development project has been supported by the European Union since 2014, in the framework of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement concluded with Senegal. This support mainly funds the production and immersion of the pots and the coordination of the project.
Scientific monitoring is one of the aspects i stakeholders would like to develop: "This is our request," continues Ndiaga Cissé. “It is extremely important for the long-term survival of this activity which is now essential! We want a scientific assessment of the octopus population so that we can plan our real exploitation possibilities. "
Food production is an important traditional sector of the blue economy. But tradition does not prohibit innovation nor a rigorous, or scientifically assessed, balance between the three pillars of sustainable development: economic prosperity, social well-being, and environmental conservation.
More examples will be demonstrated at BlueInvest Africa.
Yéyé Cooperative: from family activity to business management
2019 was a life-changing year for the six fishermen of the Yéyé Offshore Fishers Cooperative Society Ltd. Based in Port-Louis, the capital of Mauritius, they took part in a government grant programme intended to promote the development of fishing cooperatives from the island. The programme is supported by the European Union (EU), as part of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) concluded in 2013. The objective of this partnership is to support the development of sustainable fisheries (to ensure fishing is environmentally and economically sustainable) and well-managed fisheries (to ensure stocks are fished responsibly) in Mauritian waters.
Thanks to the programme, the Yéyé cooperative acquired a brand-new fishing boat. Built in Sri Lanka, 18 meters long, with a 6-ton load capacity and fully equipped, this "semi-industrial" boat can perform multiple weeks’ campaigns on the high seas, far from the coastal zone that has been the usual workplace for the six fishers, but where fish stocks are diminishing.
“Leaving the lagoon” is what they say in local jargon. The boat goes far beyond the barrier of coral reefs and allows them to exploit the vast exclusive economic zone of Mauritius. The new semi-industrial boats do not target tuna shoals, for which hunting requires more specific means, but they target snappers, groupers and other demersal species that live "on the banks", as locals call the sandy shallows of Saint-Brandon, Saya de Malha, Nazareth and Albatross, 500 km north-east of Mauritius.
The horizon of Yéyé’s fishers has since widened considerably. For Judex Rampaul, the secretary of the cooperative, going on the high seas means bringing back more and better-quality catches, which bring in more profitable customers; enough to generate more significant and regular income. This marks the transition from a family activity to business management.
Fish is the main source of protein in Mauritius. However, local catches do not represent half of the national consumption. The potential demand therefore makes it possible to envisage the development of a promising market. In addition to equipping cooperatives, the government has also decided to invest in the commercial side of fishing by financing the equipment of a processing cooperative and the purchase of refrigerated vans.
As we can see, a well-equipped fleet, which allows fishers to deploy on the entire fishery resource, can considerably improve the daily life of an entire socio-professional category. Provided that rigorous management of fish stocks makes it possible to include this deployment in sustainable development.
Global Maritime Youth: turning the gaze of young South Africans to the sea
Global Maritime Youth: turning the gaze of young South Africans to the sea.
South African Captain Londy Ngcobo is passionate. Her actions in favour of women and the youth have earned the Global Ship Navigator the nickname Black Mermaid, And now, she gives other young people the opportunity to launch their maritime careers through her association, the Global Maritime Youth.
Advocating on behalf of women and the youth.
After studying ship navigation at the University of Durban, South Africa, Londy became the first African Dredge Master. In 2018, she founded Global Maritime Youth (GMY) in her native Kwazulu-Natal, using her experience and notoriety to support women and young Africans. The association aims to help other passionate young people into maritime studies and future careers.
Awareness of maritime professions.
“The black child can no longer be associated with one who is afraid of the ocean and cannot swim,” she explains. “For the new generations, the love of the ocean must be just as authentic as that of the land. This is why GMY exists; to cultivate the love of the ocean and to stimulate the supply and demand of maritime skills through global collaborations".
GMY promotes maritime vocations in schools and youth associations, and encourages young Africans to pursue maritime careers. GMY’s activities include conferences, visits to ports, boats, institutions and companies. To diversify these activities, the organisation also develops partnerships to give the youth a chance to access education and careers in maritime vocations.
GMY’s work in South Africa is not the only initiative of this kind. Other African based organisations promote blue economy and maritime careers among their young people. They are grouped together in the Pan Africa Youth Organisation for the Blue Economy, whose members are active in 55 African countries.
Blue economy can only develop sustainably if it is led by women and men who are passionate about their jobs and motivated by the love of the sea. The promotion of maritime careers and access to education that leads to them are some of the many topics that will be tackled during BlueInvest Africa, to be held in Seychelles, in September 2022.
More information :
Tiwani Spirulina: superfood for growing middle class
Tiwani Spirulina started growing spirulina in 2014. Since then, the Kenyan company’s cultivation ponds are spread over one hectare, between the palm trees of Tiwi Kwale, 25 km south of Mombasa. The climate and the quality of the environment are ideal. Another advantage of this place is that southern Kenya is home to a renowned strain of spirulina.
“We chose the Arthrospira platensis strain from Lake Natron, because it was a localised strain and quite close to our intended growing location,” explains Luke Harries, managing director of Tiwani Spirulina. ”It was also the strain that we found at UTEX, the University of Texas algae laboratory.”
Although it grows in water, spirulina is not an algae. It is a cyanobacterium that lives mainly in tropical lakes. Dried and ground, it’s a traditional food in several American and African cultures that had guessed its richness in proteins (up to 70%), vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. It was in Chad, in the form of flat biscuits, that the West discovered spirulina in the 1970s and elevated it to the rank of "superfood".
Consolidating the local market
Tiwani’s objective was to invest in a market niche still unexplored in Africa, with the desire to promote a product with multiple outlets: food supplements for humans and animals, cosmetics, biofuels, etc. In 2019, the Kenyan authorities decided to pay more attention to the sector by establishing a production standard for the manufacture of spirulina powder. Because Tiwani Spirulina does not limit its activity to cultivation. A quick visit to the company's e-shop reveals attractive packaging of spirulina in capsule or powder form.
Luke Harries: “We go through the entire process at our farm from production: drying, processing and packing to branding and selling directly to businesses and customers. At the moment, we are focused on Africa. 95% of our business is in Kenya, but volumes are small because people are still learning about spirulina: what it is, the benefits it offers and how it is grown. We expect the Kenyan market to grow alongside the rising middle class, which is very interested in natural superfoods and health, but now, our products are targeting more affluent individuals who can afford it. We are aiming at 25,000 repeat customers (0.5% of the population of Nairobi) buying 40 g of spirulina per month, which would equate to 1 tonne of spirulina per month.”
A regional niche
At this stage, Tiwani is not targeting Europe or North America. These markets are largely dominated by Asian and American producers. These markets are largely dominated by Asian and American producers. Their prices cannot be competed with by an African entrepreneur who faces other cost constraints.
“The price of imported refined fertilisers and the certification costs are high, and the production volumes required are too large for us,” says Luke Harries. “Therefore we are focussing on the local market initially. We are also interested in the regional market: East Africa (Uganda and Tanzania), as well as Southern Africa (South Africa, Zambia) and the Middle East.”
The dream of a spirulina hub
Tiwani Spirulina hopes to raise awareness of the importance of superfoods in the fight against malnutrition and to strengthen public health, if necessary, with the support of public authorities.
“Once the market and demand for spirulina grows, we would like to train and encourage outgrowers to participate more so when we move a portion of our business into cosmetics and nutraceuticals,” explains Luke Harries. “There is a lot of good climate areas in Kenya for spirulina production, which do not favour other types of agriculture. We hope that in time, whether through our farm or through another operation, an EPZ for spirulina will be created in the export arena and that one day, Kenya will be known as a spirulina export nation alongside tea, flowers and vegetables.”
More information: www.tiwanispirulina.com
Ouradi: quality brand for traditional smoked fish
Mali is a landlocked country. But the river banks of the immense Niger, which crosses it, includes a large part of its population and its economic activity. In the regions of Ségou and Mopti, the river and its branches have been exploited for centuries by traditional nomadic fisheries, which follow the migration of fish, mainly tilapia and catfish. An activity that is developing, under the banner of a new brand known as Ouradi.
While the men fish, the women process the fish and then go to sell it in markets, sometimes very far away. Cooked in sauce, boiled or stewed, smoked or dried fish is a basic ingredient in Malian cuisine. A trend that tends to increase since the rise in the price of imported meat.1 000 transformers
To enable the development of their activities, several fishing and processing cooperatives have joined forces in the framework of the Fisheries Sector Support Project (PAFHa+), launched in 2018 with the support of the European Union (EU) and the Belgian and French cooperation. PAFHa+ covers the entire fisheries sector, from resource management to marketing. In this case, we are interested in the fate of the fish once it has been caught.
A thousand women processors have been trained, made aware and equipped with six high-performance smoking racks each. In each village or fishing camp, a young person learned to fashion a “Chorkor” oven with local materials, to meet the standards of the new smoking method.
“The benefit of this technic is that it is the best quality of smoked fish,” explains Madany Daffé, bioengineer at the Teriya Bugu integrated center and general secretary of the Ouradi association. “The fish is cleaned, gutted, then brined before undergoing homogeneous smoking for 24 hours, cold smoking, without flames and therefore without risk of calcination. This smoking technic also consumes much less wood. Thanks to this process, the fish can be preserved for 6 to 8 months, and this without chemicals. Because it was one of the problems to be solved: in the hope to prolonging the expirity date of its fish, the sector tended to abuse chemicals and insecticides, with risks that we can imagine for the health of consumers... »
These well-prepared, well-smoked and healthy fish just needed to be sold. To do so, the cooperatives of women processors, grouped into five geographical hubs, joined forces in December 2021 with two market intermediaries (ODPA-DIN in Mopti and AEDR/Teriya Bugu in Ségou). Their role: to supervise the processors, receive the smoked fish, control the quality of the fish, package it, and market it in the distribution circuits. The name of this association: Ouradi.
Thanks to the launch of this association, the women processors will no longer have to travel many kilometers to sell their fish from market to market. Furthermore, thanks to this association new business opportunities will emerge for these women.
This is where we mark the originality of the project, because Ouradi is not just the name of a trade association. Ouradi is also the name of a brand, launched in May 2022 and intended to conquer the regional market. Market study, logo, labeling, biodegradable packaging, communication agency, marketing campaign, website (soon), promotional film... Everything has been put in place to enable Ouradi to ensure its qualitative and secure positioning in a market segment shaken by food poisoning caused by improperly smoked fish.
Mauritius: a diving, research... and awareness centre
This is the story of a company concerned about its sustainability. A Mauritian diving club that has taken steps to maintain the attractiveness of its operational domain: the marine environment. In 2011, the Blue Water Diving Center served as a launch pad for an NGO which studies marine fauna and informs Mauritians on ways to use the oceans respectfully, promoting ocean awareness and education, focused on love and beauty.
Located about twenty kilometres north of Port-Louis, the Blue Water Diving Center has been operating for 35 years. The diving centre welcomes foreign visitors seeking to put on a diving suit to discover the seabed or get on a boat to observe sperm whales, which are endemic to Mauritian waters.
However, as time passed, Hugues Vitry, the diving centre founder, noticed that the seabed was deteriorating. He then embarked on several projects to raise awareness of the need to protect the marine environment, whose beauty and complexity he revealed through photography and video.
Establishment of an NGO
In 2011, he decided to go one step further. He created the Marine Megafauna Conservation Organisation (MMCO), an environmental conservation NGO, initially focusing on local sperm whales. Its mission was to better understand this population of sperm whales by collecting data and promoting scientific studies.
The NGO quickly received grants from national and international organisations, such as the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council or the United Nations Development Programme, with co-sponsorship of Blue Water that always provided facilities. The scope of MMCO's activities was gradually broadened.
“We took three directions,” explains MMCO biologist Svetlana Barteneva. “First, there is scientific research in the field, because a rational approach is essential. Then, we try to influence local policies, so that they take into account marine fauna when developing blue economy projects; the authorities consult us as experts, for example to prevent a project from being deployed in a critical habitat area for cetaceans."
Increase people's love for the ocean
“And finally, we spend a lot of our time educating and raising awareness among Mauritians, mainly children, students and sea users,” she continues… “Our goal is to connect people with the sea. Based on the principle that we take care of what we love, we try to increase people's love for the ocean."
This sea awareness raising activity took on an unexpected turn following the MV Wakashio oil spill in 2020. Many households on the island's southeast coast lost their livelihoods from tourism, fishing or aquaculture as a result of the ecological disaster. MMCO responded to a call for projects from the Mauritius State intended to help disaster victims. The non-profit gave about twenty of them the opportunity to follow a diving training programme, which few Mauritians can afford financially.
“These are diving courses up to CMAS level 2, with added training for commercial diving,” explains Blue Water Director and MMCO President Hugues Vitry. “The trainees who complete the course can do underwater work in ports or on fish farms, or contribute to scientific research, by monitoring coral reefs for example. As for those working in tourism, we provided them with business management training and showed them how to organise whale watching outings without disturbing the animals."
This training enabled many disaster victims to find work in the island's blue economy. Given these results, the programme was extended this year to train about sixty additional Mauritians.
Sharks and sea turtles now also covered
This new cohort of divers constitute a pool of ambassadors MMCO can rely on to, in turn, educate their community on the need to preserve a particularly fragile environmental balance. In addition, MMCO has also expanded its scientific scope since 2021 to include sharks and sea turtles.
Senegal: the cold that came from the sun
Keep fish chilled thanks to the sun. Such is the objective of the CryoSolar project, which saw two solar-powered cold rooms installed on the fishing docks of Mbour and Fass Boye in Senegal. The aim is to allow artisanal fishermen to have access to reliable cold storage… and sell their catches more efficiently.
At first glance, it looks like a standard 40-foot shipping container, topped with a double-pitched roof. It was set up in July 2021, on the Mbour fishing dock, next to the beach where the large multicoloured fishing boats come ashore to land their catches. Located 80 km south of Dakar, Mbour is still Senegal's second largest fishing port in terms of landings.
On a closer look, and especially judging by how women frequently come and go bringing in and taking out crates of fish, it is clear that this is not a simple container left on a wharf.
A self-powered cold room
The “roof” is in fact an assembly of photovoltaic panels. The electricity generated by these panels feeds a "machine room" which takes up part of the container and sends cold air into the other part. The electricity is also used to recharge a “cold battery” which ensures that refrigeration can be maintained after sunset.
CryoSolar – the name given to the technology embedded in this refrigerated container – was developed by Valorem, a French group specialising in renewable energy sources. A technology currently in its testing phase in a West Indian port (La Désirade), as well as in two Senegalese ports (Mbour and Fasse Boye), with the support of the Senegalese Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy and the National Agency for Renewable Energies.
Reliable and continuous refrigeration
“What makes CryoSolar special is the cold battery system,” explains Pierre-Olivier Veysset, CryoSolar Project Manager at Valorem. “We spent two long years of research and development on it. During the night, the batteries power a device that transfers the cold stored during the day to the exchanger and the cold room. This makes CryoSolar a fully autonomous system, which operates without depending on an external energy supply.”
The test phase proved the efficiency and reliability of the technology, which provides continuous cold down to -18°C. It also showed that these refrigerated containers met a need. They provide artisanal fishermen with a first link into the cold chain, enabling them to sell their catches more efficiently. In Mbour, the container is managed by an economic interest group (GIE) of fishermen and has become a gathering point for commercial transactions. One thing is certain: the 35 m3 of cold storage are broadly used.
Decent storage conditions
“At this stage, we are considering two directions for development,” continues Pierre-Olivier Veysset. “The first is the business pathway, which will require that we respond to calls for tenders. The second is the social pathway, because CryoSolar is a public good, which not only allows fishermen, but also market gardeners for example, to have access to decent storage conditions to develop their business; in this case, it is up to us to find the lines of credit that will allow us to multiply the cold rooms where they are needed and to organise the transfer of skills and technologies to ensure their operation.”
Since the energy is free, the operating costs of a CryoSolar container are rather low. The costs of cleaning, maintenance and guarding can easily be covered by charging users a minimal usage fee. However, fishing communities may only consider the purchase of equipment and technology with external support, whether public or private. Support justified by the need for producers to have access to constant cold storage to move away from the informal economy to the local, and even national, market.
By opening up new possibilities for cold storage, CryoSolar extends the shelf life of fishery products and thus contributes to a significant reduction in post-landing waste. An indirect, yet very effective way to market fishery resources sustainably.
Madagascar: securing the future of a small-scale coastal fishing
Madagascar’s E€OFISH programme, funded by the European Union, aims to help local populations establish the basis for sustainable fishing. With this objective in mind, the Malagasy NGO C3 (Community Centred Conservation) has been working for 13 years in the north-east of the island with the fishing communities of Nosy Hara, Ambodivahibe and Rigny Bay. Why? To enable them to establish a self-management system for their fisheries and, follow it.
The first aspect of this self-management is the regulation of catches. Although they live in a fragile mangrove environment, the region's remote fishing communities have not been subject to any regulations so far. Up till now, most of C3's work consists of creating three Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) subject to locally-designed management plans.
"Our approach is scientific," explains Patricia Davis, Technical Specialist at C3 Madagascar. "So, we started with a year of learning how to collect data. We didn't bring in scientists from outside, but we got the locals to work with us to learn how to assess their fisheries. The data is based on their catches: quantities, weight, composition. And it has to be recorded every day. We didn't just do a one-day training course. We went back often, each time with corrections, until it was perfect. And it was from that point on, a few months ago, that we started collecting the data.”
The trainings were not only about data collection, but also about the different elements that influence the region's fisheries: the economy, biodiversity, mangrove health, climate change, etc.
Monitoring and surveillance
“When it comes to the environment, we had to guide the locals to understand the value of establishing protected areas," says Patricia Davis. “It doesn't mean you can't fish in them. It means you have to pay attention to the open and closed seasons. And when you fish, to pay attention to the size of the catch, to preserve the juveniles. We have made great efforts in terms of training.”
But for these efforts to be sustainable, it was important to monitor these protected areas, which are also popular with outside fishermen. Here too, local resources were mobilised. Fishermen's and women's associations were called upon to form a local corps of 300 fishery guards who carry out regular patrols, driven by the added motivation of helping to preserve their food security.
C3 has always paid attention to the youth, who make up half of the local population and without whom no future project can be built. The NGO, therefore, worked with schools to take pupils into the field and actively explain to them what a mangrove environment is, what threatens it and how it should be protected, as well as the fish populations that live there and the buffer it provides their villages with when more severe and frequent cyclones threaten. These students became "junior ecoguards", who in turn were responsible for raising awareness of good fishing practices among their peers.
This ecoguard training attracted the attention of the Madagascan Ministry of Education, which has decided to extend it to all schools in the 13 coastal regions. For the time being, it is applied in schools in the five northern regions.
Moreover, the consequences of self-management are not limited to the monitoring of coastal areas. In the near future, the programme intends to develop a reflection on access to markets. So far, the fishermen supply intermediaries who then market the fish and generate profit for themselves, with limited and fluctuating returns to the fishing communities.
Here too, the winds of change could begin to blow.
The Republic of Seychelles: an African state turned towards the ocean
Why Seychelles? Why organise BlueInvest Africa in Seychelles? First, because it is an island and maritime state. Secondly, because the country is currently implementing a vast national project to develop the Blue Economy. This project is outlined below.
On 31 January 2018, the Government of Seychelles adopted its "Blue Economy Strategic Policy Framework", accompanied by its Roadmap. This new policy is the result of an integrated approach to the sustainable development of economic activities in the country's vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
"Integrated approach" because the aim is for all Seychellois to benefit. "Sustainable development" because these economic activities must reconcile the three pillars of sustainability: economic profit, the well-being of workers and residents and the preservation of the marine environment.
Principles and pillars
It is difficult to summarise such a holistic maritime policy. But its objective is clearly stated in the Roadmap: "To develop a Blue Economy as a means of realising the nation’s development potential through innovation and knowledge-led approaches, being mindful of the need to conserve the integrity of the Seychelles marine environment and heritage for present and future generations.”
Certain sectors of the economy are particularly targeted: marine and coastal tourism, fisheries, mariculture, transport, biotechnology, energy (renewable and other), IT connectivity and trade.
This policy is structured around four strategic priorities. Priority 1: Creating sustainable wealth; Priority 2: Sharing prosperity; Priority 3: Securing healthy, resilient and productive oceans; Priority 4: Strengthening the enabling environment. All of this is done in accordance with a series of fundamental principles linked to the notion of sustainable and integrated development: economic efficiency, sustainability, social equity, resilience, innovation, transparency and accountability and partnerships.
A new blue paradigm
Indeed, it is not a question of moving the economic paradigm that is currently in use elsewhere in the world to the Seychelles EEZ. The quest for maximum profit could only lead in the long run to the endangerment of marine resources. The Roadmap is clear on this point: "Blue Economy implementation requires a shift from a commodity-based economy to a value adding, diverse, service-based and increasingly knowledge-based economy." This economic philosophy has been dubbed the "Blue Economy Brand".
It is therefore no coincidence that one of the first measures taken in the framework of the Blue Economy was to limit the size of hotels. It is also no coincidence that Seychelles wants to make its blue economy the preferred territory for micro, small and medium enterprises, "as innovation needs to be nurtured and supported to become a key driver of national development and well-being."
Marine spatial planning
To help entrepreneurs invest in the maritime sectors, the Seychelles authorities have launched several innovative initiatives. One of the most important is marine spatial planning, which allocates certain areas of the EEZ to certain types of activities, while ensuring that local communities and the marine environment are respected.
As far as the marine environment is concerned, the Roadmap clearly states that marine protected areas will eventually cover 30% of Seychelles' waters. There is obviously no question of banning fishing in these areas, but fishermen will only be able to deploy their gear within the framework of specific management plans.
Another initiative is the launch of Blue Bonds, to create a fund worth €15 million over 10 years to support projects to improve the sustainability of fisheries. Seychelles is the first country in the world to use this fundraising mechanism for fisheries activities.
This innovative financing is a trademark of the Seychelles Blue Economy. While the government is considering the introduction of greater fiscal discipline and better management of public expenditure, it is also aware that public investment will not be enough to finance the Blue Economy. It has therefore decided to attract investors by using new financial instruments, such as bonds, debt swaps, trust funds, mixed public/private investments, mezzanine loans and equity loans, all against a backdrop of tax reform.
Seychelles has therefore resolutely bet on the blue economy to activate its development. A development that must be sustainable and integrated, which implies that it must improve the well-being of Seychellois and the quality of the marine environment. To be discovered, therefore, during BlueInvest Africa from 7-8 Septembre 2022.
More Information: Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy of the Republic of Seychelles