A meeting to inaugurate the Policy Research Network for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PRNFAA) was convened by African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in collaboration with the NEPAD Coordinating Agency (NPCA) on the 20th April, 2018, in Nairobi, Kenya.
The need for establishing a continental policy research network for fisheries and aquaculture for Africa became pertinent in response to the paucity of evidence to support and guide fisheries and aquaculture policy reforms on the continent; particularly to enable the sector transform and contribute to the CAADP goals as outlined in the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS).
The establishment of a continental policy research network for fisheries and aquaculture for Africa that can generate, share and disseminate scientifically validated evidence-based information for advocacy, fisheries policy reform, public awareness and strengthen stakeholder capacity for sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture is critical for the achievement of the PFRS goals.
Consequently, the establishment of this network is sequel to recommendations emanating from :
- the first and second Conferences of African Ministers for Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2010 and 2014, respectively
- African Heads of State and Governments Summit in Malabo, 2014
- the stakeholder’s adoption of a proposed framework for such a network in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire 2015
- an expert consultation in Nairobi, Kenya 2017 at which criteria for composition of memberships were reviewed, updated and a roadmap to operationalize the network also developed.
Upon adopting the roadmap, AU-IBAR developed and created an online platform for registering interested prospective members for the network.
The main objective of this meeting with the 50 selected initial registered members was to :
- inaugurate the Policy Research Network for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa,
- set up an elected bureau, and
- agree on a roadmap for operationalizing the network.
The meeting was subsequently attended by 54 participants from mostly Fisheries and Aquaculture Academic and Research Institutions, African Union Member States. In attendance were also representatives from AU-IBAR.
Dr Simplice Nouala, the Head of the Animal Production Unit of AU-IBAR welcomed participants to the meeting. In his welcome remarks Dr Nouala reiterated the concern of African Heads of State on the status of data collection for the sector and the subsequent inadequacy of scientifically validated information to inform and support the continents fisheries and aquaculture sector reforms. He stated that the deliberate action of the AU to establish a continental policy network for the fisheries and aquaculture was a continental political initiative to address these challenges and negative impacts of lack of evidence-based policies on the sustainable growth and performance of the sector.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Baboucarr Jaw, the Head of the Animal Health Unit on behalf of the Director AU-IBAR, reiterated the importance of research and the need to strengthen fisheries and aquaculture policies and institutions for the sustainability of the fisheries and aquaculture as emphasized by PFRS. He thus raised concern on the relatively slow-rate with which public research was re-orienting towards the continents development agenda, the constraints they face notwithstanding. The need for a regional organ to articulate research results for application into planning and development tools as well as commercial prospects covering the entire spectrum of the sector within the public and private spheres was inevitable. Appropriate technology and sustainable development approaches hinges heavily on scientifically validated evidence thus the emphasis on strengthening the capacity for research and dissemination of research findings within the PFRS and Agenda 2063. With these remarks, he declared the meeting open and wished participants successful deliberations.
The workshop comprised the following technical sessions:
- Session 1 Inauguration of the Policy Research Network for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa with the selected 50 registered members.
- Session 2 Election of the Bureau to pilot the affairs of the Network
- Session 3 Formulation of the Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedures for Policy Research Network for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa.
- Session 4 Formulation of a roadmap for operationalizing the network
A presentation on the background objectives and expected outcome of the meeting was given by Mr. Obinna Anozie in which the relevant policy contexts as provided by the PFRS and the extent of their implementation by the Fisheries Governance Project were highlighted.
Inauguration of the Network
During this session, participants shared their lessons, knowledge and experiences from other similar networks they were involved in. It was collectively acknowledged that (i) there was no size-fit-all approach, (ii) most of the existing networks did not specifically address Africa’s fisheries and aquaculture development needs as elaborated in the PFRS, (iii) previous attempts to establish scientific networks on the continent had not been sustainable largely because they have not been anchored into the continent’s institutional frameworks and development agenda, (iv) national initiatives need to be linked into the overall continental agenda.
There was subsequently consensus that (i) this was an essential initiative, (ii) the network should focus on addressing Africa’s needs and its continental goals, notably as provided by the PFRS, (iii) additionally it should seek to build capacity of professionals in the sector, especially of the youth.
The Executive Bureau
Through a participatory process in groups of five participants it was agreed that the executive bureau should comprise (i) two representatives from each of the five AU geographical regions, (ii) one youth representative and (iii) one representative from AU-IBAR as an observer. The executive committee, with exception of the AU-IBAR representative, would have voting rights. The executive committee voted in the following executive bureau:
|Dr. Sloans Chimatiro||Malawi||Chair person|
|Dr. Georges Mba-asseko||Gabon||Vice Chairperson|
|Ms. Susan Imende||Kenya||Secretary|
|Prof. Augustin E. Falaye||Nigeria||Vice Secretary|
|Ms. Marcelle AKA||Cote d’Ivoire||Treasurer|
|Mr. Etienne Hinrichsen||South Africa||Communication/Extension|
|Prof. Shaheen Adel Abdel Aleem||Egypt||Member|
|Dr. Semlali Mohammed||Morocco||Member|
|Kayanda Robert Jeremiah||Uganda||Member|
|Mkong Cynthia Jeh||Cameroon||Observer|
|Dr. Mohamed Seisay||AU-IBAR||Observer|
Outcomes and Recommendations of the Meeting
- The inauguration of the Policy Research Network for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PRNFAA).
- The executive committee of the executive bureau would coordinate the networks’ operationalization that would entail in consultation with member the (i) development of the networks Statutes, (ii) Rules of Procedure and (iv) first Action plan stipulating short, medium and long term actions in lieu of the networks objectives and goals.
After the presentation of the groups, a plenary discussion followed, which agreed on the issues below as a way forward for the proposed Policy Research Network for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PRNFAA):
- Membership should be to those who is interested and voluntarily committed to log into the net and register and meet the criteria set.
- At regional level the agreement is to go for 5 geographical regional groups modality, each to be represented by a Coordinator and Co-coordinator.
- At continental level, a board or a structure to manage the network was proposed. This structure will have a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Vice Secretary, Treasurer, a representative of Youths and Communication Coordinator.
- These 11 members from the geographical regions will form an Executive committee (seven) and four will be members of the executive committees. AU-IBAR will be represented by one observer.
- Members of the executive committees must be gender balanced and representation of the groups (individuals and institutions).
- Five geographical regions will need to seat and discuss and select two people as representatives.
- Executive committee should meet at least twice a year, one of which must be physical;
- AU-IBAR to roll out a platform for executive members to interact.
- General assembly should physically meet once after every two years.
After the discussion, the participants went into groups to come up with proposed priority actions for the next two years. Each group was to come up with between five priority areas for the executive committees to address. Below are the synthesized priorities from the groups:
- Draft Constitution with rules and procedures for the network/engagement.
- Develop resource mobilization strategy and mobilize resource to support activities of the network.
- Develop communication strategy for the network.
- Organize general assemblies and scientific conferenced.
- Develop database of fisheries and aquaculture data and database of network members.
- Increase visibility of the network by developing interactive website among other means to attract more membership and recognition.
- Establish Peer review scientific Journal for fisheries and Aquaculture.
- Enhance linkages and collaborations within and outside the region.
- Create information platform in which fisheries and aquaculture data and information can be disseminated and shared.
- Establish an archives to store fisheries and aquaculture data and information.
- Submit policy issues to Ministerial (Fisheries and aquaculture) meetings.
Chairpersons Inaugural Remarks
The newly elected chairperson of the executive committee, Prof Sloans Chimatiro, thanked AU-IBAR/NEPAD for taking the whole process to establish the Continental Policy Research Network for Fisheries and Aquaculture since it was first conceptualized to its fruition. He thanked the participants for showing confidence in the inaugural committee.
The new Chairperson, on behalf of the bureau pledged to operationalize the network to ensure transparent, accountable and effective governance in order to build a platform that (i) unifies the continent, (ii) cuts across youth and gender as the foundation for the future and of the sector, (iii) shall serve as the continent’s institutional memory on fisheries and aquaculture to drive the sector based upon Africa’s own knowledge and science with an African narrative. This he said, would give confidence to the policy makers and managers on the appropriateness of the actions and strategies subsequently developed.
Dr. Nouala acknowledged with appreciation to those who had initiated and have been very instrumental to this process over the last 10 years, namely:
- Prof. Benedict Satia
- Mr. Obinna Anozie, Policy Officer - AU-IBAR
- Dr. Mohamed Seisay, Senior Fisheries Officer - AU-IBAR
- Prof Ahmed El-Sawahly, the Director - AU-IBAR
- Nancy Gitonga
- All the members participants present
Adoption of a Motion
Mr. Obinna Anozie made an appeal as a motion to go into the annals of the meeting to make Prof Ben Satia the first Honorary Member of the network. The motion was seconded and unanimously agreed upon.
Ms. Nancy Gitonga – on behalf of the members presented applaud the contribution of Dr. Simplice Nouala (Head of the Animal Production Unit) to see the process through to its fruition.
Closure of the Meeting
The meeting was officially closed by Dr. Simplice Nouala, the Head of the Animal Production Unit, AU-IBAR.