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Communiqué - Expert Consultation on Roadmap for Establishing Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa

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© 2016 AU-IBAR. Group photo of participants.© 2016 AU-IBAR. Group photo of participants.Introduction

The African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in collaboration with the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania with support from the European Union organised Expert Consultation Meeting on a roadmap for Establishing Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa in order to strengthen the capacity of the continent for improved management and development of its fisheries and aquaculture resources so as to ensure increased sustainable contribution of the sector to food security, poverty alleviation and economic growth. The meeting was held from 27th to 28th of June 2016 in Zanzibar Beach Resort in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania.

The specific objectives of the meeting were: i) to agree on the scope and priority areas to be covered by the Centres of Excellence, ii) to discuss the institutional framework and sustainability mechanism, and, iii) to propose a roadmap for the establishment of centre of excellence.

The meeting was attended by 39 participants that included representatives from AU Member States, Regional Economic Communities, Regional Fisheries Bodies, Research and academia institutions from and outside the continent, Developmental partners, CSOs and staffs from AUC (AUC-DREA and AU-IBAR).

The opening ceremony was marked by statements from Dr Motseki Hlatshwayo, on behalf of the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Simplice Nouala, Chief Animal Production Officer on behalf of the Director AU-IBAR and 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 Principal Secretary, Dr Juma Ali.

The Meeting

Facilitated by AU-IBAR, the meeting was informed by invited presentations, plenary discussions and group work sessions.

The following presentation were invited:

  1. Background and objectives of the meeting by AU-IBAR
  2. Experience and lesson sharing in Africa, Europe and Asia:
    • The Africa Centre of Excellence in Aquaculture and Fisheries Science (AquaFish), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)
    • The African Regional Aquaculture Centre, (ARAC), Aluu, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
    • The West Africa Regional Marine Productivity and Biodiversity Centres, University of Ghana and the Centre for Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA), Accra, Ghana
    • The Centres of excellence (Academic institutions) in fishery and aquaculture in Europe, University of Portsmouth, UK
    • The United Nations University Fisheries Training Program (UNU-FTP), Iceland
    • The World Fisheries University: Proposal by the Republic of South Korea and FAO
    • The Africa Research and Training Center, WorldFish, Egypt
    • The Fisheries and Marine Training Institute (FMTI) in Sierra Leone, University of Sierra Leone
    • The training centre of Engineers in Fisheries, SmartFish Project

The plenary discussions and the group work focused on:

  • The Scope and geographical coverage of the Centre of excellences
  • Key Priority areas – disciplines
  • Sustainability issues with regards to both financial, institutional and technical:
  • The institutional frameworks and Governance of the centres
  • The Modus operendi
  • The criteria for selection of institutions to be centres of excellence and
  • The process of establishment of these centres

Two other presentations were made to inform the meeting on ongoing initiatives towards strengthening governance in the fisheries and Aquaculture sector in Africa.

These are:

  • Presentation of the community of Practice to operationalize the APRIFAAS (Africa Platform for Regional Institutions in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Systems)
  • Presentation on the Status of Network of journalists for sustainable fisheries in Africa

Outcomes of the Meeting

Following the plenary discussions and group works the meeting agreed on the following:

Scope of the Centres of Excellence

The Centres of Excellence will either be Regional (to address regional specific priorities) or Continental for dealing with issues of continental/global interest such as policy or governance issues.

Priority Areas

The centres of Excellence will address the following priority areas in the sector:

  1. Aquaculture (Inland aquaculture and Mariculture development)
  2. Capture fisheries (Inland waters & fisheries development; Marine fisheries & Small Scale Fisheries, Large & small-scale, near and off-shore)
  3. Aquatic Governance, Policy and Fisheries economics (Policy, ocean & inland waters governance (including law, fisheries management), biodiversity, EAF & fish conservation; IUU & MCS; data & data management, economics (incl PES), sociology & trade; Climate Change, EAF, environment and Post-harvest
  4. Vocational training & manpower development (in fields related to fisheries & aquaculture)

Institutional Frameworks and Sustainability

  1. In terms of institutional framework, the centre should be either within or affiliated with a university/other existing relevant institution(s) and should operate either under the coordination of the AUC for continental centres or under the RECs for Regional centres. RFBs could provide technical operational support to the Centres
  2. Continental or regional management/steering committee chaired by AU-IBAR or RECs will be established to oversee the operationalization of these centres
  3. The will be a need to develop innovative financing mechanism to self-sustain the Centre of Excellence either through the existing inter-governmental organizations (RECs AU, etc.) or service provision to various stakeholders
  4. The centres of excellences will build on existing centres and where possible the establishment of centres of excellence could entail the legitimisation of existing ones through the process agreed upon during this meeting
  5. Networking and collaborative/cooperation arrangements should be developed with international, regional and National existing centres in order to share lessons, best practices and avoid duplication.
  6. Mode of operation: The Centre will operate either through Virtual platforms or face-to-face engagement

Process for the establishment of the Centres of Excellence

  1. The meeting agreed that the centres of excellence should be established within the framework of the African Fisheries Reforms Mechanism;
  2. The AFRM working Group on Human Capacity and Development has been designated to act as “Task Force” to technically drive the process.
  3. Two institutions have been co-opted to join the task force namely:
    • FAO/South Korea World Fisheries University
    • The IGAD
  4. The Task Force will refine the criteria for selection of institutions prepared during this meeting and develop a Concept Note (CN) and Terms of Reference (TOR) for the selection process
  5. The selection will be done through a call for proposals or expression of interest to be launched by AU-IBAR based on the TOR developed by the task force
  6. The assessment of applications will be done by the task force
  7. Shortlisted institutions will be assessed based on criteria developed by the task force
  8. The selection process will be validated by a think tank event and submitted for validation to the AU policy processes.

The meeting agreed that FAO to serve as Observer to the Group as well as in the entire process.

The task force should submit a report to the high level ministerial dialogue on fisheries and aquaculture.


The establishment of centres is highly important to drive the Reforms in the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector in Africa as it will increase the continent’s capacity to effectively manage its fisheries resources through provision of skilled professionals. It is however critical for the sustainability that these centres are affiliated to existing training/research institutions and operate either under the auspices of RECs or the AU (AUC and NEPAD). The establishment of these centres should build on existing initiatives and as much as possible avoid duplication and redundancy.

The sustainability of these centres will equally depend on the quality of services they will render to various stakeholders along the entire fish value chains.

The task force appointed at the meeting are expected to fast track the process and present a report a report to the forthcoming ministerial Dialogue on Fisheries and Aquaculture scheduled for October 2016.