Africa is the worlds second largest and second-most-populous continent. It covers approximately 30.3 million square kilometers and is bordered by the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, as well as by the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Described as a big Island Continent, Africa has 38 out of its 54 States as coastal States. Maritime zones under Africa's jurisdiction include about 13 million square kilometers including approximately 6.5 millions square kilometers over the continental shelf.
The wealth of natural resources includes living and non-living marine resources that are to be found in the oceans and seas surrounding the African Continent, has led to a growing interest in the sustainable development of the African Blue Economy. This is reflected in the African Union (AU) 2050 Africa's Integrated Maritime (AIM) Strategy (January 2014), in the Africa's Blue Economy: A Policy Handbook (UNECA, March 2016) and in the African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development, adopted by the African Heads of State in October 2016.
However, Africa is the only regional group which has so far not engaged with activities in the Area by obtaining exploration contracts from the International Seabed Authority (ISA). A well-thought out strategy towards promoting Africa's engagement with the international seabed regime would ensure that, at some point, African States and their nationals, both natural and juridical, would have the opportunity to engage in deep seabed exploration activities in this part of the sea. Also, it would facilitate the development of appropriate institutions that would enable Africa to actively participate in this vital regime of the sea.
That is the reason why the ISA and the African Mineral Development Centre (AMDC) are committed to hold five workshops, one in each African Regions to raise awareness among African States about the importance of the sustainable development of activities on the African continental shelf and adjacent international seabed area (the Area) carried out by African nationals, as well as to discuss strategies that could help African States and nationals to build capacity, engage in deep seabed activities in the Area and promote sustainable use of the maritime areas around Africa.
The workshops will bring together experts from the international legal and scientific community with national and regional government officials, scientists, researchers and academics. The workshops will discuss issues associated with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the work of the ISA on marine mineral resources development and the protection and preservation of the marine environment from activities in the international seabed Area (The Area).
The workshops will also discuss and propose mechanisms for improving regional cooperation and participation of African countries in the in the deep seabed regime. In particular, it will address special interests of landlocked African countries.
The workshop intends also to be a contribution for the discussions and achievements of Africa's Blue Economy in the context of the African Decade of Seas and Oceans (20152025), which was launched by the African Union on July 25th, 2015.
Updates to voluntary commitment
Raised awareness on potential benefits for the African countries to participate in activities undertaken in the Area
Increased participation in decision-making processes that affect the Area
Defined sustainable activities on Africas continental shelf and adjacent international seabed Area
Contribution to the sustainable development of Africas Blue Economy