The African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and its partners the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and WorldFish in collaboration with the government of Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania with support from the European Union organised an Experts’ Consultative Meeting on Strengthening Fish Trade Information System in Africa. The aim of the meeting was to ensure effective data collection and information dissemination in order to support decision making and facilitate intra-African trade in fisheries products. The workshop was held from 29th June - 1st July 2016 in Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania.
The specific objectives of the meeting were: i) Sharing of experience and best practices between fish trade portals from different regions in the continent and how they can help improve one another; ii) Jointly with all stakeholders assess the current status and linkages of information systems implemented on the continent; iii) Develop a clear roadmap/ work plan with specific activities to be undertaken, in order to strengthen these portals, their promotion and how to make them sustainable.
The meeting was attended by 44 participants including representatives from existing fish trade portals in the continent (INFOPECHE with its sub-unit INFOSA, GLOBEFISH, INFOSAMAK, EFMIS-Ke), AU Member States, Regional Economic Communities, Regional Fisheries Bodies, Private sector organisations, Developmental partners, WorldFish and staffs from AUC (AU-IBAR and NPCA). The list of participants is attached as annex to this communiqué.
The opening ceremony was marked by statements from Dr Motseki Hlatshwayo, on behalf of the SADC Executive Secretary; Dr. Sloans Chimatiro, Program Manager Fish Trade, WorldFish, on behalf of the Africa Regional Director; Dr Simplice Nouala, Chief Animal Production Officer on behalf of the Director AU-IBAR. The meeting was officially opened by The Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries, Zanzibar, Dr Hamad Rashid Mohammed in the presence of The Permanent Secretary, Dr Juma Ali.
The meeting was facilitated by AU-IBAR and sessions chaired by EAC/LVFO and COMESA. The meeting was informed by presentations, plenary discussions and group work sessions.
The following presentation were made:
- Background and objectives of the meeting by AU-IBAR
- Experience and lesson sharing from
- Member states: Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, and Cote D’Ivoire
- Intergovernmental Organization for Marketing Information and Cooperation services for Fisheries and Fisheries Products in Africa (INFOPECHE) with its sub-unit for southern Africa (INFOSA)
- GLOBEFISH / FAO
- Centre for marketing, information and advisory services for fishery products in the Arab region (INFOSAMAK)
- Electronic Fish Market Information Service (EFMIS-Ke)
- IGAD’s Regional Electronic Fisheries Marketing Information Network
- Other presentations to inform the meeting were:
- A Report of a study commissioned by NPCA on the Assessment of existing Fish Trade Portals in Africa
- A Geo-Coded Interactive Aquaculture Trade Information System for Walimi Fish Co-operative Society (WAFICOS), Uganda
The plenary discussions and the group work focused on:
- SWOT analysis of existing portals
- Identification of actions and expected outcomes to strengthen the portals.
- Mechanisms for ensuring financial sustainability of the trade portals/marketing information systems
- Private sector participation and involvement in making the Fish Trade portals sustainable
- Type of information that a fish trade portal should have (Primary Data collection and priority information) and mechanism for sustaining provision of the data
- Regional trade portal and the role of RECs and RFBs in operationalizing trades portals (institutional linkages).
Outcomes of the Meeting
Following the plenary discussions and group works during the meeting, the following outcomes were achieved:
- A SWOT analysis for the four groups/ information systems (INFOPECHE, INFOSA, INFOSAMAK, EFMIS-Ke) was developed based on which appropriate actions and expected outcomes were proposed in order to address the weaknesses and the threats and leverage on existing strengths and opportunities. Some of the key challenges were related to sustainability of funding, data collection mechanism, institutional linkages, and ownerships. Some of the priority actions identified include ensuring the trade portal is addressing the need of stakeholders by collecting and providing relevant information, engaging MS to pay their contribution to sustain the portals and put in place a system with focal points for data collection to supply the portal continuously, etc.
- Learning from the past failures and experiences of information systems developed as projects, mechanisms for strengthening and ensuring sustainability of the fish trade portals and marketing information systems were developed including private sector involvement and public private partnership (PPP) arrangements. Proposals for sustainable financing mechanisms were also made.
- Priority information required for specific needs and stakeholders were determined including information on quantities, prices, suppliers, markets demand, directory of suppliers/consumers of fish accessories, weather, fish species, type of fish, regulations and export/ import requirement, etc.
- The role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs) in addressing the sustainability issues of the trade portals and information systems was explored and proposals made for anchorage of regional fish trade portals to RECs for optimising the portals as well as integration of mobile based information technology.
- The immediate priority needs/requirements for intervention as quick win for EFMIS-Ke were identified. The intervention would focus on reactivating the systems for Kenya and expansion into Tanzania and Uganda. The three immediate intervention actions are:
- Reengaging the service provider to renegotiate subscription and a new contract;
- Reactivate the EFMIS-Ke by training new data collectors and providers, acquisition of new hardware and software;
- Expansion to Lake Victoria countries (Uganda and Tanzania) by reviewing existing concept note, get buy- in from key stakeholders and rolling out to Uganda and Tanzania.
The Meeting was officially closed by the The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries, Zanzibar; Dr Juma Ali.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The importance of information for any significant development cannot be over emphasizing. Facilitating fish trade through improving existing trade portals and information systems is paramount for African continent as expressed by African Union Heads of States and Government who endorsed the Policy framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS) in Malabo in 2014.
Noting the challenges being faced by small scale fishers, fish farmers, processors and traders, improving access to information is imperative. African Union Member States should create capacity for accurate and timely availability of market information on fish and fishery products. This will facilitate decision making at policy levels for efficient investment and provide a shield for the small fishers and improve their livelihood and food security.
There is a need for regional and national fish trade information portals to be operational and sustainably provide information to stakeholders as needed. Member states, RECs and RFBs should improve governance structures of data collection, analysis and dissemination entities and systems at national and regional levels to ensure sustainability.
There is a need to strengthen the capacity of fish-related businesses to enhance their market access and competitiveness through access to market information. However relevance of information is key for sustainability and stakeholders’ involvement including public and private sector through innovative PPP models is critical.
With the emergence of new technologies the meeting felt there is a need for all fish trade portals to adopt mobile information technology to facilitate data and information flows.