The Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Development Bank (AfDB), Member States and implementing partners have launched the Programme for Improving Fisheries Governance and Blue Economy Trade Corridors (ProFishBlue) in the SADC region at a ceremony that was held in Gaborone, Botswana on 30 March, 2022.
ProFishBlue was approved by the Board of Directors of the AfDB on 22 October, 2021 with a grant totaling US$9.2 million to support the implementation of best practices of fisheries governance and blue economy trade corridors in the SADC region. The project aims to promote sustainable management of fisheries resources within the blue economy context to improve food and nutritional security, create employment through value chain activities, facilitate intra-regional trade, and build adaptive capacity. Potential co-financing is also expected from Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other resource partners.
In welcoming participants during the launching workshop, Dr. Friday Njaya, the Director of Fisheries of the Republic of Malawi, on behalf of SADC Chairperson, stressed the need for such a regional approach given the transboundary nature of aquatic fishery resources for food and commodity trade, citing as an example, Lake Malawi which borders Mozambique and United Republic of Tanzania. He also commended the Task Team on the scope of the project activities that is consistent with the needs of regional member countries and as reflected Bank’s financed ‘Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture Development and Watershed Management (SFAD-WM) project.
The Director of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) at the SADC Secretariat, Mr Domingos Gove highlighted the importance of the fisheries and aquaculture sector to food, nutrition, livelihoods support and economic development, and how it fits into the regions cross-border trade, given the vast natural resources endowment of the region. The project is aligned with the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030, in which the Blue Economy and fisheries agenda remain central to the vision and imperatives of regional integration.
During the launch the Chief Fisheries Officer from AfDB and Task Manager for the project, Dr. Ahmed Khan provided a synopsis of the Blue Economy Flagship under the Bank’s Feed Africa priority area and illustrated the linkages between “ProFishBlue” and the Bank’s other High priority areas.
He added that the ProFishBlue is the first major ‘Regional Public Goods’ project to be financed by the AfDB under the African Development Fund (ADF)-15 window which falls within the domain of blue economy and fisheries involving Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as SADC. The project will complement the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy on regional integration, industrialization, gender, climate change and diversify the Bank’s portfolio in both sovereign and non-sovereign operations.
The project interventions comprise four components and multi-scale activities including conservation planning, sustainable fish harvesting strategies, blue economy investment plans, input supply services for fisheries and aquaculture, marketing infrastructure for fish and fishery products, as well as the provision of regional conformity assessment and standardization for fish and fishery products. Training programmes will be provided to value chain actors on multiple fronts along the fish chain, especially women and youth. This will promote competitiveness in the retail and wholesale fish trade as well as facilitate cross-border corridors in the region. In addition, the project will support institutional capacity building for climate resilience through information service provisioning, climate buffers, and resource mobilisation towards adaptation and mitigation.
The project will directly benefit SADC sub-regional and national public entities and institutions in their overall public administration as well as value chain actors including fishers, fish farmers, processors, retailers, wholesalers, transporters, and consumers. The project will also target both direct and indirect beneficiaries through training and knowledge dissemination, nutritional advocacy, food safety standards, COVID-19 measures, as well as climate services in the region. Several sub-regional implementation partners attended partnership workshop convened to strengthen collaboration and resource mobilization, and they include Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), WorldFish, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the African Standardization Office (ARSO).
To date, the AfDB Group’s active portfolio in Southern African region comprises 218 operations, with a total commitment value of UA 7.935 billion. This covers all ongoing operations in the region, including those designed for regional integration and for national development impact and two regional public good (RPG) projects implemented by SADC. The sectoral distribution of the regional portfolio reflects a dominance by the financial sector at UA 2,017 billion (26%), energy sector at UA 1,936 billion (24%) followed by transportation sector at UA 1,286 billion (16%), agriculture sector at UA 0.971billion (12%), and the remaining UA 1.267 billion (22%) covering social and multi-sectors including mining and environment sectors.