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Africa’s Blue Economy, Where the Ocean Innovation Africa summit fits in

Ocean Innovation Africa ,a platform that showcases African ocean-impact initiatives and brings together international changemakers for the growth of an equitable and sustainable ocean economy in Africa gathered key actors in the African Blue Economy in Cape Town this February for 3 days of knowledge sharing, inspiration, and collaboration on shared goals.

The annual summit convenes innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, industry-leaders, and policy-makers from Africa and abroad leading the way in development and adoption of sustainable ocean solutions. The ocean economy presents a massive opportunity for socio-economic development in Africa, but only if it takes place in a drastically less exploitative manner than has been the case up until now.

According to the company,this kind of transition requires innovation in ocean-impact fields and integration between them, but moreover, if it is to happen within the time frame needed to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets, it needs to be accelerated.

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This year saw the event return to a fully in-person gathering at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, as the official summit of The Ocean Race stopover in the city. What makes the event unique on the continent is the range of stakeholder groups that take part. The summit brings together the entire blue economy ecosystem, from political and industry leaders, investors, and NGOs, to entrepreneurs, community representatives and downstream beneficiaries.

The summit witnessed participation from 500 key stakeholders from 59 countries. The organisers and partners of the summit ensured financial support was provided to allow access to groups that may have been unable to attend otherwise. Notably, almost half of the audience consisted of delegates from 35 African countries. 

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Ocean Innovation Africa is an outcomes-based summit. Mornings are dedicated to inspiration, both by showcasing opportunity for ocean-impact entrepreneurs, and by sharing perspectives from action on the ground. Key topics are discussed between expert panels, providing insight for the sector-specific workshops held in the afternoons.

These workshops were facilitated by Ernst and Young South Africa, and chaired by sector experts from within the OIA partner network, and aimed at providing a platform for key stakeholders in each field to collaborate on shared goals.

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Despite discussion groups of up to 20 at times, work shoppers and attendees alike shared diverse perspectives, questions, and experiences, not only informing future work but, in numerous cases resulting in direct actions based on cooperation between participants.

The event also saw partnership agreements supporting to the Africa Ocean innovation ecosystem forged between international support organisations, regional authorities, and Africa’s first ocean-impact accelerator, OceanHub Africa. Over R200 000 in prizes were awarded to African ocean-impact startups that took part in pitch competitions at the summit, with finalists receiving additional mentorship and support to scale their enterprises, and with them, their impact, through the OceanHub Africa network.

Make_IT in Africa, a division of the German Development Fund GIZ, launched a Blue Economy Masterclass for ecosystem support organisations and business angels through the summit, and the IUCN, WEF-UpLink, and OceanHub Africa launched the first ”Great Blue Wall” ecopreneur challenge for seascape restoration and conservation in the Western Indian Ocean region.

Key speakers included H.E. Nancy Karigithu, Kenya’s Ambassador for Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs, and candidate in the next elections for Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation, H.E Chileshe Kapwepwe, Secretary General of COMESA, Richard Brisius, Chairman of The Ocean Race, and Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee member for Economic Growth at City of Cape Town.

Milcah Lukhanyu
Milcah Lukhanyu
I cover tech news across Africa. Drop me an email at [email protected]

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