Supporting Africa’s Blue Economy through the Sustainable Development of Deep Seabed Resources

28 November 2018

Nairobi, Kenya (ISA News) -- The wealth of marine resources in the oceans and seas surrounding the African Continent has the potential to be a key driver for the development of Africa’s Blue Economy but greater investment and capacity building will be critical to advancing the sustainable development of Africa’s deep seabed resources.

This was the key message at a high-level side-event organized by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in partnership with the African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on the sidelines of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi this week.

High-level delegates gathered at the event to discuss the joint Voluntary Commitment made by ISA and AMDC at the UN Oceans Conference in New York in 2017 (#OceanAction16374), to support Africa’s Blue Economy. 

In his opening statement, ISA Secretary-General Mr. Michael Lodge highlighted that Africa as a regional group, is yet to engage with activities in the seabed area by obtaining exploration contracts from ISA, due to the key challenges that need to be overcome by many developing countries.

“The sustainable development of deep seabed minerals could significantly contribute to leveraging the Blue Economy for all nations, particularly for developing countries but this will require addressing specific challenges in relation to technology, data and information,” said Mr. Lodge.

“The benefits for African countries of strengthening their engagement in the activities undertaken in the international seabed area cannot be disputed. For this reason, I expect that the implementation of our Voluntary Commitment will contribute significantly to the regional and national development objectives set out by our Member States, especially in the context of the African Decade of Seas and Oceans,” he added.  

The Voluntary Commitment has been translated into a two-year project, entitled the ‘Africa Deep-seabed Resources Project,’ which will be led by ISA, and implemented in partnership with the Africa Union and UNECA, in close cooperation with all African states. The Government of Norway has also recently pledged its support for this project through a grant of $500,000.

In his statement, H.E Mr. Nikolai Astrup, Minister of International Development, Norway highlighted the importance of capacity-building to advance the sustainable development of mineral resources. “It is of vital importance that all States can exercise their rights and fulfill their abilities under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said. “I hope this initiative will foster new ideas and the Blue Economy in Africa.”

H.E Mr. Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean noted that this is a critical time for the sustainable development of the international seabed area. “The Africa Deep Seabed Resources project is exactly the sort of thing we've been calling for,” he said. “Congratulations to Norway, the International Seabed Authority and the African Mineral Development Centre for getting it right.” 

In her remarks, Ms. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, of UNECA added, “This partnership with the International Seabed Authority is important for us to enable African states to understand the potential benefits associated with this new industry, as well as ensuring the protection of the marine environment.”

As part of this project, five regional workshops will be held across the African continent. The first was held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, last month, and received strong representation from African countries, as well as national and international experts, and international organisations.

The outcomes will provide input into the development of regional strategies to help African States fully benefit from their Blue Economies, particularly regarding increased participation in deep seabed activities.

For more visit: http://bit.ly/VC_Africa

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Katie Elles, Communications Specialist, International Seabed Authority, M: +1 876 835 3801/ E: kelles@isa.org.jm

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