United Nations
Mapping the Blue Economy of Africa to support decision-making, investment and governance of activities undertaken on the continental shelf and in adjacent international seabed areas
by African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), International Seabed Authority (ISA) (United Nations entity)
A large part of Africas economic growth relies on numerous ocean-related activities and a series of factors. Maritime zones under Africas jurisdiction cover about 13 million square kilometers including approximately 6.5 millions square kilometers over the continental shelf. Moreover, 38 of the 54 of the African States are coastal States. In addition, more than 90 % of trade is conducted by sea and the most strategic gateways for international trade are in Africa, underscoring the geopolitical importance of the region.

The wealth of natural resources - both living and non-living marine resources - which lie 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 Africas 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.

The Blue Economy holds great potential for the socio-economic development of the African continent and accordingly it has gained an important place on regional and national development agendas. However, for the Blue Economy to constitute an appropriate engine of development it will need to be approached with sustainability and sound management in mind. In that perspective, it is essential that marine geospatial information on the geology, the mineral and biological resources as well as on the environment and marine ecosystems is made available and merged with comprehensive information on all types of marine activities that are undertaken or projected.

The availability and quality of marine geospatial information is also essential to ensuring transparency in decision-making processes and management of marine natural resources and related activities. The more accessible and reliable the information is, the lower is the risk to invest in emerging activities, particularly if sufficient information has made accessible to the civil society which in return has given its social licence to proceed.

The Project Atlas of the African Blue Economy is a collaborative activity proposed by the African Minerals Development Center (AMDC), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and GRID-Arendal (Norway) that will be implemented in cooperation with the African Union Commission and Parties of the UNCLOS, which have developed activities and collected data and information in the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific oceans, as well as in the Mediterranean sea and in the Red Sea.

The Project is designed:
to gather, assemble, integrate and make available in a single standardized geospatial database all the available and non-commercially sensitive/confidential data and information on the geology, mineral resources and environment of the African continental shelf and adjacent international seabed areas; and
to enhance a sustainable process of exchange, update, analysis and dissemination of geological, mineral and environmental information that are necessary to implement the Blue Economy concept in Africa.
Updates to voluntary commitment
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Marine Spatial Planning
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Data access and sharing
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
  • Activities to raise awareness of the comprehensive legal and policy framework for the sustainable development of oceans and seas, in particular UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements and other relevant ocean-related instruments and promote their effective im
July 2020
Standardized geospatial database containing all the available data and information on the geology, mineral resources, biological resources, environment and ecosystems, as well as on marine transport, tourism, piracy, etc. of the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea
July 2020
DVD containing all the above mentioned data and information accessible by using a programme, which enables the visualization of data and information from any type of computer and allow geoprocessing tasks, handling of files and carrying out searches. It also enables modifying working directories of the DVD, attaching new files and data, thus creating specific projects
Staff / Technical expertise
Staff time
In-kind contribution
Support for data collection
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 August - 2020 July
African Mineral Development Centre AMDC (United Nations entity), Internationals Seabed Authority ISA (United Nations entity), GRID-Arendal (scientific community)
Ocean Basins
  • Indian Ocean
  • South Atlantic
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Kaiser De Souza, Head Geology and Mineral Information Section , Souzak@un.org, +251 11 544 3843
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Other SDGs
United Nations