Douala - While Africa is losing its share in the global fish trade market, even trading relatively less within the continent itself, intra-regional trade in fish on the other hand is encouraging. After sugar, fish is reported to be the second most traded agricultural commodity intra-regionally. As a commodity, fish is among the top agricultural products with significant export potential.
Africa has great potential to generate more food and nutrition security benefits from fisheries which can also help to reduce poverty, as is evidenced through the promotion of sustainable fisheries management. Moreover, increased trade can be associated with faster economic growth. Hence, expanding fish trade opportunities for small-scale fishers and fish farmers can help raise incomes as well.
Intra-regional fisheries trade in Africa is constrained by a number of factors which include inadequate hard and soft market and trade infrastructure, as well as weak policy and institutional frameworks. These challenges lead to high transport costs, unpredictable trade regimes and inadequate market information for stakeholders. Other challenges include inadequate compliance to sanitary and phytosanitary measures and the high cost of doing business on the continent.
Concerned about the low level of intra-regional trade, the African Union Heads of State and Government, during their 23rd Ordinary Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2014, committed themselves to triple, by the year 2025, intra-African trade in agricultural commodities (including fish) and services.
To this end, a stakeholder consultation workshop was held from 1- 3 November, in Douala, Cameroon. The workshop was convened to consolidate ongoing efforts of partners, as well as to agree on a roadmap for the establishment and implementation of the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) concept, on cross-border trade on fish and fishery products in the Central African corridor (whose member states are Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and Congo).
In his opening address at the workshop, the Director of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Fishery Industries in Cameroon, Dr Belal Emma, maintained that cross-border trade of fishery products in the Central African region is extremely important as fisheries and aquaculture contribute to food and nutrition security of the region’s population. Dr Belal also highlighted the importance of the sector for the creation of jobs and income.
Dr Bernice Mclean, Senior Programme Officer for Fisheries at the NEPAD Agency, reiterated the important role played by fisheries trade as a contributor to economic growth and development in Africa. She also stressed the urgent need to develop appropriate policies, certification procedures, standards and regulations embedded in national and regional trade and food security policy frameworks that can be translated to practical results on the ground.
Dr Mclean cited the OSBP and trade-related measures model as an effective tool for implementing fisheries trade policies at the regional level. She appealed to stakeholders at the workshop to agree on a roadmap for the establishment and the implementation of the OSBP concept for the Central African region.
The consultation workshop concluded with the development of a roadmap with a series of key priority actions that included among others, the:
- Harmonisation of standards, regulation and inspection procedures;
- Operationalisation of the Economic Community of Central African States’ (ECCAS) region free trade area; and
- Establishment of a data collection system for fish and fish products at important borders to address the need for statistical evidence for informed decision making.
Dr Mclean reaffirmed the NEPAD Agency’s commitment to deliver on the NEPAD Action Plan for Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Malabo Declaration, Agenda 2063 as well as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme.
The workshop was jointly organised by the NEPAD Agency, the African Union Inter-Africa Bureau for Animal Resources and WorldFish in collaboration with the Government of Cameroon, ECCAS and the European Union.
Source: NEPAD Agency