Around 40% of the global population lives along with coastal areas, of which a significant proportion rely on ocean resources for their livelihoods and business. The sector is estimated to contribute USD 2.5 trillion annually to the global output but its contribution to individual economies varies widely. For example, ocean-based activities contribute around 4.1% of India’s GDP,11% of Mauritius, and 70% of Norway’s export revenues.
Contributions of the blue economy vary by sector. For example, about 80% of the words’ international trade is transported by water,50% of the international tourism travel to coastal destinations, and around 30% of the world’s oil and gas production comes from offshore.
In Africa, the huge potential of the blue economy remains untapped. Of the 54 African states,38 are coastal countries, and the continent has a total coastline of 30,500 kilometers. Yet, to date, most blue economy activities are small-scale, taking place on a long coastal reef using traditional methods and crafts. This means the blue economy has a huge potential for the socio-economic growth transformation of African societies.
Many of Africa’s coastal countries are also classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and/or Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The United Republic of Tanzania is one of the 33 LDCs in Africa and the archipelago of Zanzibar, which consists of the two main islands Unguja and Pemba along with smaller neighboring islands, is a semi-autonomous region within the country. Viewed in isolation, Zanzibar shares many characteristics of the Small Islands Developing States. Ocean-based activities contribute over 29% of Zanzibar’s GDP and employ around 33% of its labor force (RGZ.2020b). Therefore, the development of the blue economy in Zanzibar (and for the coast of Mainland Tanzania) is vitally important to national development.
At present, the full resource potential of the blue economy can only be estimated due to the scarcity of information. In addition, not all is known about the sectors’ contribution to livelihood and businesses, especially in LDCs, since the sector is dominated by informal activities. However, as new technologies make exploration and exploitation of ocean resources more economically viable, the socio and economic benefits of embracing the blue economy become clear. Despite the information gap, there are obvious benefits for coastal countries to embrace a blue economy strategy.
The blue economy has diverse components, including established traditional ocean activities such as fisheries, tourism, and marine transport, but also new and emerging undertaking, such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractives, and marine biotechnology and bioprospecting. A number of services provided by ocean ecosystems, for which markets do not exist, also contribute significantly to economic and other human activities, such as carbon sequestration, coastal protection, waste disposal, and biodiversity.
Until recently. In many developing countries, ocean resources have generally been used as means of accessing free resources and waste dumping, with economic and socio costs excluded from discussions and decisions. In these countries, policy and regulatory interventions have been used to respond to and comply with global wishes and requirements rather than as instruments of national or local development. This has recently changed, however, as LDCs generally, and SIDS in particular, have begun to appreciate the huge potential and opportunities of ocean resources.
The importance of ocean resources to the livelihoods of the people of Zanzibar raises two fundamental questions. First, given the significance of this resource, does it contribute sufficiently to the growth and development of the population? Or is there potential for more growth? Second, are the current operations of the blue sector sustainable? Put differently, do they comply with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Agenda? Or does Zanzibar need to do things differently?
To respond to these questions, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar developed the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050(hereafter referred to as Vision 2050) and the Zanzibar Blue Economy Policy (hereafter referred to as The policy) and is in the process of developing the Zanzibar Blue Economy Strategy (hereafter referred to as The Strategy). Vision 2050 sets out the long-term goals and aspirations of Zanzibar and distinguishes the blue economy as a key strategic driver for realizing them. The policy provides a guiding framework for the implementation of the blue economy and has identified five areas of focus, namely, fisheries and aquaculture, maritime trade and infrastructure, energy, tourism, and marine and maritime governance. The Strategy shall detail the key strategic choices for the blue economy to achieve the goals and aspirations of vision 2050.
The decision by the RGZ to focus on the blue economy as the means to socio-economic transformation is logical. Indeed, it is the only feasible path to sustainable development and poverty eradication for a natural resource-constrained Small Island. This is clearly elaborated in vision 2050 which has set out the long-term goals and aspirations for Zanzibar.
Strategy is about choice. And a good strategy is about choosing to become competitive, deliver unique products and services to meet the requirements of a targeted client, and, therefore, perform against market competition and profitability.