‘The blue economy is the next frontier,’ says former President Faure |04 February 2021
It has long been said that Seychelles’ current and future prosperity is intrinsically linked to its marine and coastal assets. With the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic exposing the fragility of small islands states like Seychelles, there is a need to relook at our economic model.
After taking part in two virtual sessions of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, former President Danny Faure told Seychelles NATION in an interview yesterday morning that “the blue economy, which is gaining popularity and is quickly picking up momentum across the globe, is the next frontier”.
Mr Faure spoke about the blue economy as the next frontier for sustainable development, the financial architecture which will emerge in the post-Covid context and new possibilities for renewable energy.
He said “Seychelles has continuously striven to give the ocean the limelight it deserves” because “if we save the ocean, we save the planet”.
“Countries from the African mainland have built their economic model on agriculture, mining and manufacturing, while the economic for most island states like Seychelles are tourism and coastal fisheries. Seychelles has not been spared from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic which have been catastrophic to our tourism industry causing our economy to take severe setbacks but we plan to face the future by pioneering our blue economy principles. This means diversifying our economy. This is why it is important to have a healthy ocean which would become the foundation of vibrant economies. By doing that we will position the ocean at the heart of a transition to sustainable finance,” said Mr Faure.
The former president explained that since the “world’s population has reached almost eight billion there is a lot of pressure to feed the world through resources found on land and this is becoming unsustainable. Therefore, there is a need to relook at our economic model in terms of feeding our population, giving employments to the youth and so on. The fact that Seychelles was given the opportunity to champion Africa’s blue economy, its role is to provide strategic direction and coordination, not only to continental efforts throughout Africa but also the world”.
To be able to provide this strategic direction, in 2019, Seychelles in collaboration with the Nekton Oxford Group, conducted one of the first scientific deep ocean explorations in the Indian Ocean, one of the least explored oceans which could be a source of untapped potentials.
But there is a need for financing.
Former President Faure explained that since “Africa’s blue economy has untapped opportunities and Seychelles is a pioneer in leading the way towards the development of a sustainable blue economy, we need strong partnerships, we need new financing mechanisms to move forward”.
It is important to note that in January 2018, Seychelles launched the Blue Economy Strategic Framework, which articulates Seychelles ‘Blue Economy Brand’ as a unique comparative advantage, based on its sustainability credentials.
To have its objectives, Seychelles came up with different initiatives which have gained appreciation from the international community. They include the debt for marine swap which seeks to forgive part of the country’s national debt in exchange for strictly protecting 30% of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to support climate adaptation, and Marine Spatial Planning initiative for re-organising Seychellois waters.
Seychelles has also developed and issued a sovereign Blue Bond valued at US $15 million and the proceeds are channelled through the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) to provide businesses with loans and through independent trusts set up to manage debt swap initiative, which issues blue grants.
Mr Faure added that the African continent has been a bolster to Seychelles venturing into developing her marine biotechnology industry in a bid to diversify.
“Using a grant for the African Development Bank, we have developped a project that targets the training of about 100 entrepreneurs, 85 trainers of teachers and 50 incubator users. The grant will also support the creation of 20 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in marine biotechnology sector and setting up of a Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Development Strategy,” said former President Faure.