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Official opening ceremony to celebrate the 2021 Edition of African Day of Seas and Oceans

07 August 2021 | Foreign Affairs

To commemorate the 2021 edition of the African Day of Seas and Oceans which was celebrated on 25th July, the Republic of Seychelles as the Champion for the Blue Economy was given the honour of jointly hosting this important event with the African Union (AU). To officially launch this celebration, a virtual official ceremony was held at State House yesterday.

The ceremony was attended by guests of honour; the President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Wavel Ramkalawan and African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE), H.E. Mrs. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko.

In his message for the African Day of Seas and Oceans, President Ramkalawan highlighted that “As an island nation state totally surrounded by the ocean, Seychelles considers these water bodies worthy of special status and recognises them to be among Africa’s most prized natural assets. They need to be valued, protected and taken good care of. Our seas and oceans are very strategic economic assets and could be regarded as the cornerstone of our modern day development efforts.”

The President made reference to the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, the Red and Mediterranean Sea and gave examples as to why these are strategic economic assets. President Ramkalawan also remarked as to how the wealth produced by Africa’s natural assets does not return to Africa and called on world leaders to help stop such exploitation.

“I call on all leaders of Africa to help stop the plunder and enrichment of third parties while our African brothers and sisters continue knocking doors with begging bowls. I also call on western nations to not only preach democracy and humanitarian principles, but to practice them, as it is only in this manner that we will have fairness and work towards solving poverty issues, while achieving Sustainable Development Goals. I repeat the call of African leaders before me for an efficient and meaningful partnership,” said President Ramkalawan.

Hereon, the Head of State emphasized on the need for great network of rivers and lakes that feed into these seas and oceans and of course the coastal marshes that are as such important reproduction habitats of so many sea water species.

“Perspectives for future development are immense. Indeed, these waterbodies are integral to our livelihoods, and yet some of them, like the Indian Ocean, have been described as being amongst the least explored terrains in the world. Our task is to push for continued scientific research; for oceans and seas not only to have ecological, nutritional and economic values, but also to recognise their role as key climate regulators that influence global weather systems. In other words, Africa must ensure that we persevere in the protection of planet earth.”

He continued, “Perspectives for future development are immense. Indeed, these waterbodies are integral to our livelihoods, and yet some of them, like the Indian Ocean, have been described as being amongst the least explored terrains in the world. Our task is to push for continued scientific research; for oceans and seas not only to have ecological, nutritional and economic values, but also to recognise their role as key climate regulators that influence global weather systems. In other words, Africa must ensure that we persevere in the protection of planet earth.”

To conclude, President Ramkalawan expressed the need for combine effort and actions in the development of our ‘blue’ resources, which he noted remain central to ensure food security and social wellbeing.

“Let us direct our actions towards our true north, the ‘blue north’, and secure this beacon of hope for Africa!”

In her statement at the ceremony, H.E. Ambassador Sacko described this event being held in Seychelles as attestation of the great commitment of Seychelles to advance Blue Economy in the African continent. She spoke about the opportunities around the Africa’s Blue economy.

“Africa is endowed with massive aquatic and marine resources including oceans, seas, rivers and lakes with potential for blue economy growth. The continent has 38 coastal States and a number of Island States that collectively encompass vast ocean territories of an estimated 13 million square kilometers (km²). There are also substantial transboundary rivers and lakes in Africa with water bodies and wetlands that are of strategic importance as they provide opportunities for fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, coastal tourisms, offshore oil and gas energy mobilization and other blue economy related activities,” said Ambassador Sacko.

Prior to the ceremony she met the President for a courtesy call where they spoke of about  the agendas of the Africa Union. Ambassador Sacko was able to brief him on the different programmes and the way forward.

The ceremony was also attended by Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Ahmed Afif, Designated Minister and Minister for Fisheries of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Jean-François Ferrari, Principal Secretary for the Blue Economy Department, Mr Kenneth Racombo, Senior Economist and national EITI coordinator for the blue economy policy and programme management division, Ms Fatime Kanté, AU delegation in Seychelles and AU Members virtually.

 

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