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Digital Transformation in the Blue Economy: Promoting Sustainable Development in Mozambique

Digital Transformation in the Blue Economy: Promoting Sustainable Development in Mozambique

  • Vicente Bento • Partner & General Manager at Insite

The concept of the Blue Economy has come to the fore in recent decades. It is related to activities carried out in the aquatic environment, such as fishing, aquaculture, maritime logistics and transport, shipbuilding, scientific research and nautical tourism.

As Gunter Pauli (the driving force behind this concept) has argued, the blue economy must focus on nature-based approaches, endeavouring to respect the principles of ecology and efficiency in order to create a sustainable and regenerative industry around the ocean. Since the release of his book “The Blue Economy” in 2010, this concept has been widely discussed and adopted by governments, companies and organisations around the world as a model for boosting economic growth in a sustainable way.

Since this topic is as vast as the immensity of the ocean, I’d like to focus on the role of the digital transition in three of these activities: aquaculture, logistics and maritime transport.

Trends and technologies in aquaculture

The need to preserve natural resources, combined with optimising the use of soil and water, has resulted in the implementation of more sustainable farming systems. Aquaculture is thus a critical industry that endeavours to satisfy the world’s growing demand for fish. As such, the use of technology is crucial to effectively monitor fish health, ensure optimised feeding practices and reduce waste and residues that can end up in a dump without any kind of treatment, a reality that exists in many countries without adequate infrastructure.

The adoption of technological and research-based solutions will be key to achieving sustainable and efficient aquaculture growth. In addition, increased fish production can help address the food security challenges not only in Mozambique but also in neighbouring countries, create job opportunities and contribute to the region’s economic growth.

The implementation of technologies such as satellite monitoring allows for more effective management of marine resources, contributing to the preservation of coastal ecosystems and increased productivity in fishing and aquaculture activities

Finally, we mustn’t forget the certifications associated with this activity. In addition to standards related to food safety (e.g. ISO 22000, BRC, IFS), Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification is awarded to aquaculture operations that comply with strict standards of environmental, social and economic sustainability, including responsible management of water resources, minimisation of environmental impacts and respect for workers’ rights.

The importance of digitalising logistics and maritime transport

Responsible for more than 80% of global trade, maritime transport currently moves around 13 billion euros a year. There are approximately 54,000 ships travelling the planet transporting all kinds of products, from grain to cars and heavy machinery. You only have to visit the Port of Maputo or the Port of Nacala to see the daily movement of goods that passes through there. It’s quite interesting to realise how a port area works and which industries depend on this sector.

By positively influencing maritime transport and services, digital technologies play a crucial role in making this sector increasingly efficient. A 2021 World Bank report showed that “the adoption of digital technology throughout the maritime supply chain would eliminate major inefficiencies, simplifying logistics and operations”. And there are already African start-ups looking into this issue. Take OnePort 365, a Nigerian company that aims to solve inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the continent’s maritime industry.

Maritime transport and services play a crucial role in the efficiency of the blue economy

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In turn, maritime regulators are increasingly concerned about environmental issues and the extent of the damage that the maritime industry is causing to aquatic and marine ecosystems. As a result, the industry is being increasingly regulated to ensure sustainable operations and minimise their impacts. Policies such as reducing carbon emissions in the shipping industry (green shipping) are being implemented in order to steer the industry towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Digital transition in Mozambique’s blue economy

Given this context, it is important to know how Mozambique, with its extensive coastline and vast marine biodiversity, should position itself within this global movement towards the digital transition in the blue economy. In a country where marine resources play a vital role in the livelihoods and economies of communities, the digitalisation of these sectors presents significant opportunities for sustainable development.

The digitalisation of the blue economy in Mozambique offers a number of benefits. The implementation of technologies such as satellite monitoring allows for more effective management of marine resources, contributing to the preservation of coastal ecosystems and increased productivity in fishing and aquaculture activities. In addition, the application of digital solutions in nautical tourism can not only improve the experience of those visiting this beautiful country, but also help mitigate negative environmental impacts. For the digital transition in Mozambique’s blue economy to be truly inclusive and sustainable, it is essential to address challenges specific to the local context. This includes the need to create an accessible digital infrastructure and training programmes to ensure that everyone can fully benefit from the new technologies.

Ultimately, the digital transition in the blue economy has the potential to transform Mozambique into a regional leader in marine sustainability and socio-economic development. By investing in technology and innovation in this sector, the country can not only contribute to economic growth, but also promote environmental conservation and the well-being of coastal communities. It is therefore imperative that Mozambique seizes the opportunities offered by the digitalisation of the blue economy to build a more prosperous and sustainable future for all its citizens.

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