NAIROBI, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the eastern African region should leverage on their vast and resource-endowed coastlines to promote growth of strategic sectors of the economy like fisheries, transport, tourism and manufacturing, UN officials said on Tuesday.
Andrew Mold, director of the sub-regional office for eastern Africa at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said that harnessing marine and inland water resources is key to alleviate poverty and unemployment in the region.
"The eastern African region has a vast coastline whose abundant resources should be exploited in a sustainable manner to accelerate economic growth," said Mold at a regional maritime forum held in Nairobi.
He said that investments in infrastructure to support maritime transport combined with a robust fisheries sector will unlock the growth of the blue economy in the region.
"Countries in the region should develop modern seaports to facilitate cross border movement of goods and services as part of efforts to reawaken their blue economies," said Mold.
Kenya has partnered with UNECA and International Maritime Organization (IMO) to host a regional forum to discuss mainstreaming of the maritime sector in the sustainability agenda.
Senior policymakers and scholars attending the two-day forum agreed that a robust maritime and shipping industry is key to hasten the realization of sustainable development goals in the east and horn of the African region.
Juvenal Shiundu, director of technical cooperation division at IMO, said that sensitization targeting policymakers and local communities are key to revitalize the blue economy and unleash jobs for the youth.
"We need to educate policymakers, investors and communities on the vast and unexploited marine as well as inland water resources in this region and how they can be tapped to boost food security and access to clean energy," said Shiundu.
He said that policy reforms combined with training of manpower and investments in new technologies are key to promote sustainable utilization of marine resources in the eastern African region.