Wherever you go on the islands you hear people talk about blue economy, a concept which became popular under Dr. Mwinyi Administration, who has repeatedly mentioned the concept during his public addresses.
The Zanzibar Development Vision 2050 regards the Blue Economy as a priority area for the next 30 years, serving as an effective and sustainable means of improving livelihoods and transforming the country’s economy.
Zanzibar can harness the potential of the Blue Economy by ensuring formulation and implementation of plans that that ensure sustainable exploitation of marine and coastal resources.
The Blu Economy Policy 2020 aims to work in the following priority areas; fisheries and aquaculture, maritime trade and infrastructure, energy, tourism as well as marine and maritime governance, through implementation of this policy, Zanzibar has the opportunity to increase employment, improve the balance of trade, promote food and nutritional security and maintain environment resilience.
Subsequently, by 2030, given the effective operationalization of the policy, we expect Zanzibar to be the leading hub for the Blue Economy activities in the Western Indian Ocean region.
Blue economy is an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of the ocean or ‘blue’ resources. Similar to the ‘Green Economy’.
blue economy model aims to improve human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
Latest studies have revealed that oceans are crucial for the development of human societies and always have been. Throughout history human development has progressed in lockstep with human exploration and discovery of the oceans and their riches.
During the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD-or Rio+20) in 2012 in which Zanzibar’s delegation was led by the late Ambassador Ahmed Diria, the promotion of the blue economy was highlighted.
This led to the development of “blue growth” to become a target for many nations which recognized that the blue economy was both a necessary and inevitable result and driver of social and economic development.
From the perceptive of development process, the blue economy is an advanced stage of marine economic development, which appears when the development of marine economy and culture reaches a certain stage.
Therefore, the multiple benefits enshrined in the blue economy have far-reaching significance for the future sustainable development of human societies.
The blue economy is an engine that drives high-quality economic growth. It includes not only traditional marine economic industries such as marine trade, shipping, port infrastructure, and fisheries, but also the sustainable use of biological and non-biological resources in the seas, including ecotourism, deep sea fishing, aquaculture, biotechnology, marine energy, and seabed mining.
For the islands of Zanzibar, the development of newly emerging industries out of the blue economy will create more jobs to reduce unemployment, eliminating poverty, enhancing social inclusion, and improving livelihoods.
In the process of using marine resources responsibly,the emerging blue economy industries in Zanzibar will pay a key role in reducing the damage done to the marine environment through efficient and rational use of marine resources.
The aim will be avoiding the degradation and enhancement of marine ecosystems, and to improve the defense capabilities of the ocean and its inhabitants against natural disasters.
Promoting global and regional blue economic cooperation under bilateral and multilateral mechanisms will help Zanzibar strengthen maritime, economic, diplomatic, and politically diversified cooperation.
Seychelles which is now considered, as one of the pioneers of the Blue Economy, is in the frontline to share its model with other small islands in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The former President of these Indian Ocean islands, James Michel had said during the Ocean Sustainability High Level that just like the Western Indian Ocean, the eastern part also has very rich and vast marine space.
He shared the initiatives that Seychelles had taken the deal he had brokered with the Paris Club and The Nature Conservancy known as the Debt-to-Adaptation Swap whereby repayment of an international debt of $ 21 million was cancelled in exchange for investment in the Blue Economy.
“Seychelles has already achieved 30% protection of its ocean space and has committed to do even more in the years to come. This is a major achievement,” he said.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced last week that Seychelles will receive about $10 million in the coming 18 months to improve its Blue Economy sector.
Zanzibar has now embarked on different programs of developing the blue economy. What is required is proper planning, implementation, as well as learning from the experience of other countries such as Seychelles.
The Zanzibar success and future of the Blue Economy sustainability must lie in proper policy making and effective implementation, by ensuring continuous monitoring and evaluation with a view to address the emerging challenges in the maritime sectors in the wake of the recent technological changes in the marine area.
There is need to make sure that economic activities do not harm marine environments and ecosystems. Blue Economy experiences of other countries could be guiding lesson to Zanzibar such as Seychelles, Indonesia.
Zanzibar needs to have a strategic plan that will act as a useful tool for preparation of skillful human resources for maritime sectors. An economy can never be successfully established until it is cultivated and shaped from the root level. Therefore, the establishment of a Marine University was significant decision.
Also, much attention should be focused on climate change impacts on marine and coastal resources, this will provide ground for the government actors to initiate possible and reliable measures for the current and expected future climate change impacts. Special focus is required on energy efficiency, marine and coastal biodiversity, ecosystem based adaptation, environmental resilience building in the coastal areas ,ecosystem restoration, building economic resilience and policy formulation for climate change resilient Blue Economy development.
Achieving these goals and priorities is difficult and require time. Nevertheless, the goodwill of the government exhibits that Zanzibar is on right track. The establishment of legal and regulatory documents that would be guiding the sector hence the Zanzibar should prioritize it in its national agenda through legislation and legal implementation.