World Aquaculture Society


African Chapter President's Column December 2023

Ms. Foluke Omotayo Areola is the new WAS African Chapter President, having been inaugurated at the most recent Aquaculture Africa (AFRAQ23) Conference in Lusaka Zambia (November 2023).

Ms. Areola, a long serving WAS member, is a former Federal Director of Fisheries Quarantine in Nigeria (within the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development). She is also a former President of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON) and a Board Member to various organisations in the country.

In her acceptance speech for the role of President, Ms. Areola underscored her vision to see African aquaculture flourishing within Africa’s blue economy agenda. Being an ardent proponent of sustainability in aquafoods systems, she aspires to focus her attention more to building capacity on the key subjects of aquaculture certification, standards, and best practises – as this will ensure African producers and processors, especially SMEs, are empowered to produce quality products that are competitive in both domestic and global markets. “I believe we can achieve this through the various blue economy aquaculture investment platforms, networks, and strategies - including the Africa Continental Free Trade aspirations. I call upon those interested in developing strategic programmes and activities to collaborate with us on this front”, says Ms. Areola.

Ms. Areola also emphasised her desire to continue from where her predecessor Dr. Walakira left off, in advocating for enhanced roles of women and youth in aquaculture. “It is my desire to continue to consolidate and deepen my focus on these areas, capitalising on some of the platforms which we have established together with our partners, such as the African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFISHNET). I also plan to create a leadership academy for women in aquaculture, among various other capacity-building initiatives. The WAS strongly believes that the future of sustainable aquafoods systems rests in the youth. To this end, I aspire to see aquaculture providing opportunities for our youth to engage in entrepreneurship and innovation. Our youth could in turn contribute to making aquaculture ‘smart’ through digitization and innovative solutions. We also believe that the recently launched WAS free membership policy and platforms for students will go a long way in building the next generation of aquaculture actors” says Ms. Areola.

In his handover speech, the outgoing WAS-AC President, Dr. John Walakira, lauded the appointment of the first female candidate to the role of President for WAS-AC, as this accentuated inclusiveness in terms of gender balance and outreach to the West African region. He was overly grateful to all Chapter membership and stakeholders for working diligently on many fronts during his term. This has now seen the Chapter growing from strength to strength, with many strategic events and activities now visible as the Chapter celebrates five years of existence. WAS-AC was formally established in November 2018.

Following a successful election period in October 2023, other Board Members inaugurated during the occasion included; Dr. Khalid Salie (South Africa) to President-Elect and Dr. Nevine Shabana (Egypt) and Mr. Lanre Badmus (Nigeria) were re-elected as Regional Directors for North and West Africa respectively. Dr. Victoria Tarus (Kenya), was elected to be Regional Director for the Eastern Africa region following the retirement from the Board of Dr. Nelly Isyagi (Uganda). The inauguration also saw Dr. Sherif Sadek (Egypt) now being elevated to the new title of “President Emeritus!” while Dr. Walakira (Uganda) now takes on the role of Immediate Past President. Dr. Kevan Main (USA) continues her role as Chapter’s Strategic Advisor.

The rest of the current Board members include Dr. Bernice Mclean (AUDA-NEPAD) as Treasurer, Dr. Festus Adeosun (Nigeria) as Secretary and Dr. Francisca Delgado (Angola) as Regional Director for Central Africa Region. Meanwhile, Dr. Khalid Salie (South Africa) will continue his role as Regional Director for Southern Africa until a new Director is elected. Mr. Blessing Mapfumo remains the Executive Officer of the Chapter, managing the Chapter’s Secretariat.

The 2nd Aquaculture Africa Conference (AFRAQ23), which took place on 13-16 November 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia was a great success as it brought together nearly 1200 industry, academic, government, and development partner delegates from 73 countries, mostly in Africa and from across the world. The well-organised exhibition platform featured 55 booths from 22 countries. In addition to networking opportunities which the conference rendered, the scientific/technical programme featured 44 sessions, 225 abstracts and 49 posters.
WAS-AC is overly grateful to all Conference organisers, the gold sponsor (Aller Aqua); silver sponsors (WISSH GIZ and WorldFish) and several other conference partners and the attendees at large. Much gratitude goes to the government of Zambia for successfully hosting this event. More highlights about the Conference will be available in the next issue.
— Foluke Omotayo Areola, President

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