African Chapter President's Column - March 2023
March 2023 marks the end of the 2022-2023 fiscal year for the African Chapter of WAS. It also marks the end of my first year as African Chapter President. What a productive year it was — mostly as we witnessed many events and activities, getting back to a full normal post-Covid period.
A lot of activities are lined up for this coming season as we continue striving to deliver on our mandate of providing a platform for enhanced international communications, collaboration, and information exchange with the wide variety of aquaculture actors and professionals in Africa. It delights me to see many Africans, especially our members, networking with their international peers at international conferences, webinars and other various capacity-building events.
For this coming WAS Fiscal Year (starting 1 April 2023), we are eagerly waiting for the launch of the WAS student free membership program (for least developed countries) as deliberated at the recent WAS 2022 conference in Singapore. Once this gets rolled out, I believe it will bring so much joy to many African aquaculture students and their mentors. In this regard, I have instructed our very own African Chapter Student Portfolio ad hoc Chairperson, Dr. Khalid Salie, from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, to get prepared and begin engagements with the WAS global students committee and put together the necessary guidelines and protocols. It is our desire to have a functional African Chapter student program with a sound program at the upcoming Aquaculture Africa 2023 in Zambia later this year. During the year, we also expect to have some student education-oriented webinars and exchange programs. Developing students, youth and young professionals is at the core of my heart during my term, having personally benefitted from the process and journey, once being a WAS mentored student all the way to being African Chapter President!
Regarding the upcoming 2nd Aquaculture Africa Conference (AFRAQ23), which is scheduled for Lusaka, Zambia, from 13-16 November 2023, I am delighted to see that the organizers have begun hitting the ground running. The Steering Committee has stepped up efforts to do the necessary organizational formalities following the endorsement by the Government of Zambia – Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. AFRAQ23, which is themed “Resilient Value Chains in the Blue Economy,” will feature world-class technical sessions and workshops covering nearly all aspects of aquaculture in Africa and around the globe. International professionals will present their current research and showcase the latest innovations in aquaculture. The trade show will feature more than 70 booths from around the world. We are expecting over 700 participants. Registration for AFRAQ23 is underway and exhibition and sponsorship options are available. For more information, visit www.was.org/meeting/code/AFRAQ23.
Back home, in East Africa, very soon I will be officiating and attending the 2nd Regional Conference on Aquaculture in East Africa, scheduled for 14-17 March 2023 at Jaramogi Odinga University, Kisumu, Kenya (earac.org). I am indebted to WAS members in East Africa, under the leadership of Dr. Nelly Isyagi for pulling this through. Much appreciation to many of our partners in the region, including the main sponsor — the EU-TRUFISH Project in East Africa. We once again hope to have a successful conference. I intend to share the highlights of the event with you afterwards. This will be a hybrid event; you are welcome to join us online.
Regrettably, the Regional Conference on Aquaculture in West Africa, originally scheduled for March 2023, had to be postponed to 14-17 May 2023. This was largely due to recent post-election developments in Nigeria and the fact that the original dates coincided with the country’s national population census. The conference will still be held at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria (wasacwar.com). It is my hope that WAS members and partners in Nigeria and West Africa will attend the event in numbers. Again, I am grateful to our Regional Director for West Africa, Mr. Lanre Badmus, for leading the team that is organizing the event.
In North Africa, we participated at the just-ended 6th Edition of the Salon Halieutis Fair (www.salonhalieutis.com) in Agadir, Morocco, on 1-5 February 2023. This is the largest seafood show in Africa and was an ideal platform to host the first African Chapter – Maghreb Region outreach event. The four-day event was organized under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and was themed “Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture: Levers for an Inclusive and Efficient Blue Economy.” A diverse range of seafood actors from Morocco, Africa and elsewhere globally converged on the 21,000-m² exhibition space in Agadir, where they showcased products, services and conducted business-to-business meetings. We shared an exhibition booth with our partner, Aller Aqua, for this occasion. I am thankful to our Regional Director for North Africa, Dr. Nevine Shabana, and WAS members in the region for organizing the outreach event.
For these three regional events and more, I must acknowledge the support and collaboration of our Chapter Sponsor, Aller Aqua — who are also the Gold Sponsor of the AFRAQ23 conference in Zambia. Together we say “Let’s Grow Together,” as their slogan goes. I wish to also express profound gratitude to Aquaculture Africa Magazine (AAM), our special media partner, for sharing and exchange of information widely in Africa through its various social media platforms. They have recently concluded revamping their platform with a new IT/Marketing team on board (aquacultureafrica.com). We look forward to utilizing their media platforms for disseminating African Chapter information and announcements.
Let me end by once again congratulating my fellow colleague, Dr. Nelly Isyagi, the African Chapter Regional Director for East Africa, for recently being reappointed as WAVMA Director-atLarge for Africa and Middle East for another term (2023). Dr. Isyagi has been an active professional in the aquatic animal health field for many years and has initiated the strategy of collaboration between WAVMA and the African Chapter, which is bearing fruit.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated the retirement of Dr. Kevan Main from Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida, USA on 31 January 2023. We understand she now shifts to an emeritus position, where she will continue to serve in research activities. Words cannot express our profound gratitude to Dr. Main for all the great work Africa, continued from page 6 she did in supporting the establishment and operationalization of the African Chapter, which she is committed to continue doing.
I hope to meet some of you at the upcoming World Aquaculture 2023 in Darwin, Northern Territories, Australia from 29 May to 1 June 2023!
— John K. Walakira, President