By M. de la Peña
So far this year, a lot has been heard regarding the potential and development of Africa’s aquaculture industry. In the Aquaculture America 2017 event held in San Antonio in mid-February a whole session was dedicated to Aquaculture in Africa. During this session, Cliff Spencer, Chairman of Aquaculture without Frontiers mentioned that resources, human capital and demand exist in Africa, and that aquaculture is the only way to solve the protein problem in this continent. Additionally, the strategic locations of some countries, like Egypt, represent a major competitive advantage to meet the seafood demand in Europe and the Middle East, in addition to the growing local demand. Thus, a significant growth of African aquaculture industries is expected for the following 10 to 15 years.
The growth of aquaculture in Africa involves a twofold challenge: on one side, there are the governmental and ONGs’ strategies, and on the other, private capital investments – foreign, local and the combination of both. Therefore, a brief review of some of the strategies that have been carried out over the last few years and which are expected to continue in the coming years is presented here.
Ethiopia – Aquaculture Budget Increases
Ethiopia’s unexploited aquaculture potential has gained government attention. The country has the socioeconomic conditions and physical resources (water, land and natural resources) to support aquaculture development.
After Nigeria, Ethiopia is becoming the second most populated country in the continent; it is expected to reach 117 million habitants by 2025. Although there is a high variation in fish consumption within the country, the average fish consumption per capita is 1 kg. The expected population growth, by itself, represents an immense opportunity for aquaculture development.
The government has had included aquaculture as a priority in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), where, through a series of projects and by offering diverse types of support to all stakeholders interested in aquaculture, the government plans to increase fish production from 50,000 to 96,000 tonnes. Additionally, an Ethiopian Aquaculture Association has been established and it is expected to play a key role in the development of the sector.
The Ethiopian government has worked to create a favorable environment, both economic and legal, to favor investments in aquaculture. For example, the government offers a series of attractive incentive packages (customs duty payment exceptions in some aspects, income tax exceptions, export incentives, etc.).
However, there are several challenges to overcome in the process of developing aquaculture in the country, for example: (1) seafood consumption must be promoted; (2) its is necessary to establish regulations for the fisheries sector in order to reduce and avoid over-fishing; (3) it is also necessary to establish regulations and promote food safety throughout the seafood supply chain.
Zimbabwe’s Aquaculture Sector: Upward
In August 2016, the government launched a stocking and restocking program aiming to boost aquaculture production, while enhancing national food security and nutrition, and generating jobs. The promotion of aquaculture is also a strategy to mitigate poverty in the country.
The program seeks to integrate two of the most vulnerable groups in society, women and the poor. Zim Parks will implement the program in collaboration with Zimbabwe National Water Authority and rural district councils.
As part of the program, twelve officers have been trained and will be responsible for training in the communities, as well as for the identification of training needs and actions plans for training in the future. The program also plans to work closely with traditional leaders to up-scale any existing aquaculture programs.
As the program expands across Zimbabwe’s provinces, it will be necessary to develop seed production centers in each province, and eventually training for each community to produce their own seed.
Tanzania Seeks to Boost Aquaculture While Conserving Biodiversity
In Tanzania, inland water covers 6.5 % of the total country surface, including the great lakes (Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa/Malawi), which are recognized as one of 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Despite Tanzania’s optimum conditions for fish farming, aquaculture continues to be a small-scale initiative.
In order to develop a national aquaculture strategy, thirty scientists representing Tanzanian stakeholders, as well as international research organizations, gathered for a three-day workshop in Zanzibar. The meeting was founded by the Swedish “Agriculture for Food Security 2030” (AgriFoSe) program and co-organized by University of Dar Es Salam, World Malaysia and by the Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU).
The main outcome was the creation of a consortium between the partners that will set up a National Aquaculture Development Centre (NADC). The main objective of the consortium is to develop strategies to improve fish production while preserving Tanzania’s natural diversity and resources.
Tilapia aquaculture has the potential to meet the nutritional demand of Tanzania’s growing population. By exploiting aquaculture’s potential, it will be possible to reduce the country’s dependency on imports, increase food security and boost the Tanzanian economy.
A reliable broodstock supply is a key factor for aquaculture development in any country. The Earlham Institute, in collaboration with Bangor University, is working to characterize the genetics of tilapia species in Tanzania. The analysis of around 30 tilapia species, including 11 endemic species, with traits of commercial importance (growth rate and feed efficiency)—with the objective of creating the country’s commercial broodstock –could contribute to the development of an independent industry. Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries will work on developing new policies to help in meeting consortium goals.
Operation Phakisa was launched by the South African national government in 2014. One of the key sectors within this program is the promotion of the Ocean Economy. Oil and gas, marine manufacturing and transport, marine protection and governance, and aquaculture are the focal areas of the program.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is the lead department for the aquaculture focus area. In analyses carried out in July and August 2014, conclusions were that South African aquaculture has a great potential for expansion, but there are several challenges to overcome such as regulatory barriers, high production costs, difficulty accessing funds, little infrastructure in some regions, and poor accessibility to markets, among others.
Currently, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is working on a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the current framework and streamline the process to facilitate sustainable aquaculture development in South Africa. The SEA started in 2016, and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2017 (CSIR 2016).
Operation Phakisa’s main goal is to stimulate the growth of the sector. Since its launch and as of October 2016, 32 aquaculture projects have been initiated and an estimated of USD 8 million (R106-million) has been invested in the sector by the government. Additionally, in February 2017, Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance of South Africa, during his budget speech announced that USD 20 million (R266m) would be allocated to support the aquaculture sector and meet the goals of the Oceans Economy Phakisa Operation.
In Africa, the aquaculture industry is rapidly growing, but 90 % of that growth is happening in two countries, Egypt and Nigeria.
Egypt has the largest aquaculture industry in Africa. The Government of Egypt has showed strong support to aquaculture as it has an important role for creating jobs, increasing income, helping lift people out of poverty, and promoting healthy diets. The government continuously promotes aquaculture projects among local and foreign investors.
Evidence of the expected growth in the aquaculture sector in Africa is the investment, construction and expansion of aqua feed mills in the region. Here are some recent cases:
Aller Aqua – Consolidating in the African Market
Danish feed group Aller Aqua plans to consolidate itself as the strongest in the aquaculture feed industry in Africa, and so far, it has demonstrated that it is determined to achieve this goal. In March 2015, the company opened a fish feed plant in Giza, Egypt, and has been increasing production gradually to meet local demand. Currently, the company is growing its tilapia feed capacity with a third extruder line, which is expected to be operating by April 2017. With this third line, the production capacity of the plant will be 150,000 tons annually.
In January 2017, Aller opened its Ghana feed plant; the production is destined to satisfy the catfish and tilapia farms located along the Volta River. Additionally, the Dutch feed group’s plant in Zambia is under construction and is expected to start operating in September 2017. Aller Aqua Zambia will produce high quality extruded fish feed for the tilapia industry, with a production capacity of 50,000 tones per year.
De Heus Opens Feed Plant in Egypt
Koudijs Kapo Feed, a joint venture between Dutch leader in animal nutrition De Heus and feeds raw material importer Kapo for Agricultural Projects, celebrated the opening of its first fish feed factory in Egypt at the beginning of February 2017. The JV has been producing feed concentrates since 2003 for other livestock sectors, like poultry and cattle and now is venturing into the aquafeed industry. The new factory, located in Alexandria, has a production capacity of 150,000 tons per year, and its production is destined to satisfy the increasing demand of the tilapia industry of the country.