African Chapter President's Column - June 2023
As we began our new fiscal year in April, I thought it was imperative to reflect on the general trends of aquaculture development in Africa. There is no doubt that our service and deliverables do in some way contribute to the development trajectory of African aquaculture. I am thankful to the FAO Aquaculture Statistics Division for keeping us updated on trends and statistics. Here is where Africa stands at the moment, based on FAO aquaculture statistics from 2021.
World aquaculture production in 2021 reached 126 million t live weight, which was up by 2.7 percent from 2020. The farm-gate value of global aquaculture now stands at a record US$296.5 billion. Aquaculture’s contribution to total fish production reached 49.9 percent in 2021.
In Africa, although capture fisheries are still dominant, with an 82 percent share of total fish production in 2021, aquaculture continues to grow modestly, now taking up 18 percent, up from 12 percent in 2012. Total aquaculture production from Africa (excluding aquatic plants) was 2,322 million t in 2021 and is about 2.6 percent of the world total. About 92 percent of African aquaculture comes from inland aquaculture, although annual production has remained more or less static over the last five years or so. However, significant gains have been recorded in marine and coastal aquaculture, with a record increase of 157 percent since five years ago.
Despite overall positive annual growth, it must be highlighted that the growth rate has been inconsistent, having fluctuated significantly over the last ten years with a high of 11 percent in 2016 and a low of 2.6 percent in 2021. Africa’s seaweed aquaculture, which formerly produced huge volumes of significance over the past decade, continues a downward trend, with a record low of 96,000 t in 2021 compared to a peak of over 200,000 t recorded in 2016.
By far, Egypt remains the largest producer country in Africa, taking up nearly 68 percent of the continent’s aquaculture production (1.5 million t) in 2021. This is followed by Nigeria (276,000 t or 12 percent) and Uganda follows in third position (139,000 t or 6 percent), and then Ghana taking the fourth position (89,400 t or 4 percent). These four countries collectively produce 90 percent of total aquaculture production in Africa.
Zambia, which is the fifth producer by volume overall, remains probably the fastest in terms of annual growth rate, with its production having increased threefold in a span of five years from 20,000 t in 2016 to over 64,000 t in 2021. Zimbabwe, which used to be among the top ten African producers over the last decade, sadly has lost its glory. This is largely due to the difficult economic situation of the country that has had a knock-on effect on doing business in aquaculture. Tunisia has made inroads in recent years, having significantly increased its annual production exponentially, almost entirely from marine aquaculture. The country remains one of the fastest growing aquaculture countries in Africa. South Africa has slightly improved its production in 2021, owing to an increase in shellfish production — largely driven by strong global markets. Tanzania and Rwanda are becoming important players in small- to medium-scale commercial aquaculture. This is largely attributable to investment models that seem to be working in East Africa, supported by a favorable policy environment. Other emerging countries performing fairly well include Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mali and a few others.
When I look at such numbers, I feel inspired that, through WAS and the African Chapter, our service to the aquaculture sector is contributing to paying some good dividends, in general. Of course, much more needs to be done to make Africa a strong global player — based on the strong potential we have across all fronts. There are a number of challenges we still need to address to ensure our aquaculture value chains are strong, competitive and sustainable in the long term. These range from physical, economic, geopolitical and social factors, which I will unpack in detail in one of my future columns.
The Second Aquaculture Africa Conference (AFRAQ23) is coming up in Zambia on 13-16 November 2023. This will be the best place to be for many of our audience, as we aspire to learn more and connect with a diverse range of aquaculture players in Africa. Make sure you are booked to attend this event, cognizant that it is happening in the continent’s fastest-growing aquaculture producer country. Our biggest task this coming season is to promote the event extensively through various platforms to ensure maximum participation of aquaculture actors and exhibitors.
The recently held Regional Conferences on Aquaculture in East Africa and West Africa (March and May 2023 respectively) were a general success. I am overly thankful to my regional directors, the WAS membership, partners and sponsors for pulling these through. Such regional meetings have become important in not only grouping local/regional membership together, but also as a platform to deliberate on some strategies to advance sustainable aquaculture in those geographical regions. We hope to have more regional conferences organized in Northwest Africa (Maghreb) and Central Africa in the coming year.
A number of activities will be happening in the coming season. We endeavor to keep you updated and wherever possible seek your collaboration as we move along. We hope to have our annual Board and business meetings this June, remotely. We also desire to revitalize the WAS AC committees once again this season and also begin the process to elect some of our office bearers — the Regional Directors from East, West and North Africa. We also hope to advance the implementation of the new WAS AC student program and also review our membership recruitment drive processes in the African region through various means. The African Chapter also participated in the World Aquaculture 2023 Conference in Darwin, Australia, and the annual Board meeting.
Let me end by thanking Dr. John A. Hargreaves, the outgoing Editor-in-Chief of World Aquaculture, for the good journey we have walked together in getting all these columns drafted and published. I understand John will be handing the baton to the new Editor, Dr. Greg Lutz, after more than 11 years of service to WAS. The process has been exciting and inspiring, as we utilized our column space to show WAS what we can offer through many programs and activities happening in the Chapter. We look forward to continued good working relationship with the new magazine editor. Thank you, John; you are simply the best!
— John K. Walakira, President