time bomb in Africa
and in particular the women and youth. As the AU Commissioner of Agriculture, I must remind all of you that African oceans and seas need to be developed to be part of the solution for the rising food insecurity and food shortages compounded by the pandemic in Africa. Blue foods, namely foods derived from aquatic sources, have a key role to play in addressing protein deficits across the continent, and it is encouraging that many countries in Africa have well- established or emerging sectors on fisheries and seafood, aquaculture and seaweed/ algae production.
In 2019 the African Union Commission ( AUC) put in place the ‘ 1 million by 2021 Initiative’ that aims at reaching African youths with opportunities and interventions in the areas of Employment, Entrepreneurship, Education and Engagement ( 4E’s), which we hope will in turn contribute to socioeconomic development on the continent. The African Union has developed the Africa
Blue Economy Strategy envisioned to foster an inclusive and sustainable blue economy that significantly contributes to Africa’s transformation and growth and aimed at providing guidance to AU member states and regional institutions for coherent development of national and regional blue economy strategies. The Africa Blue Economy Strategy with its focus on five thematic areas that are critical to the sustainable development of Africa blue economy growth is currently being popularised among African countries. Given the objective of raising awareness on the critical role played by Africa’s oceans and seas in attaining sustainable development within the framework of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs), the commemoration of the 2021 edition of African Day of Seas and Oceans was held in Mahe, Republic of Seychelles, on 6th August 2021, under the theme transforming the challenges of African seas and oceans into opportunities. The event was organised by the African Union Commission, through its Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment ( ARBE) in collaboration with the Government of Seychelles whose President is the AU Champion for Blue economy. It provided an opportunity to reflect on opportunities and challenges facing Africa’s resources in its Oceans, Seas, Rivers and Lakes and deliberated on appropriate policy and institutional responses. The AU is already doing a lot to promote youths and these sectors. For lack of time, I will briefly address few of them. My desire is that the young men and women from Southern Africa will emerge as role models and portray the ability that they are change makers on the continent. In moving forward, we need to put youth at the centre of the development of green and blue growth in Africa. I will put forward three proposals on how we can successfully engage youth and I am happy that the Secretary
General of SADC is here with us.
We need to put youth at the heart of everything we do including getting them to speak for themselves. We also need to deliver at scale by identifying and developing youth- focused solutions and innovations and mobilise financing including catalytic finance to implement them at scale. Finally, I enjoin our governments to accelerate the education, skills, literacy and empowerment programmes that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship among young women and girls. To promote innovation and enterprises led by our youth, we need to invest more in low cost technologies, create conducive business environment; provide affordable access to finance and build the competencies of young men and women in digitalisation.
Amb. Josefa Sacko Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment speaking at the 3rd Annual SADC Youth Forum,