Undoubtedly, the country should continue to tap into its blue economic resources – after all, Mauritius is truly blessed on this front with a vast ocean territory comprising an Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.3 million square kilometres and a continental shelf of 396,000 square kilometres co-managed with the Republic of Seychelles. However, it is also an opportune time for the country to consider regional scaling through transferring its knowledge and experience of the sector while leveraging on partnerships for mutually beneficial expansion programmes across Africa, thereby leading the way in weaving a strong and sustainable growth story on the back of the blue economy.
Accordingly, this article aims to focus on the blue economy by exploring how Mauritius can enhance its current value proposition across the African continent.
Why Mauritius must work with Africa to shore up the ocean economy
The ocean matters. It makes up 70% of the planet, generates half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs 25% of the world’s CO2. As an industry, our ocean is the world’s seventh largest contributor and generates at least $2.5 trillion with over 3 billion people relying on fish from the ocean for income or food.
Mauritius has a strong and thriving blue economy, albeit, some sectors still need investment, execution and focus to realise their full potential. The pillars of our local blue economy are fishing and aquaculture, port infrastructure and maritime transport, shipbuilding and repairs, marine salt harvesting as well as tourism and recreation. Operators of these sectors have developed a world class offering and established efficiencies and the government aspires to increase their contribution to GDP by deepening and diversifying the value chain in a sustainable manner.
Can this knowledge and skillset be transferred? If an operator has hit the ceiling of its business growth locally, further growth can only be achieved through expansion outside of Mauritius and a natural direction of travel is Africa. We have long aspired to be a regional player on mainland Africa and we have not been fully successful yet.
Meanwhile, the African Union Agenda 2063 describes the blue economy as a major contributor to the continental transformation and growth and Mauritius has the potential to spearhead such transformation and growth. As many as 38 out of Africa’s 54 countries have borders surrounded by the ocean and the continent has a total coastline of 30,500 kms, most of which is unexploited. In the next 50 years, Africa will need to increase its food production against a backdrop of chronic water scarcity and increase in the cost of living.
Against this sobering backdrop, Africa is underutilising and arguably wasting its blue economy’s potential to date. However, the situation can be rectified, and Mauritius can be a catalyst for the aspired transformation.