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National Assembly

In the National Assembly | 22 July 2020

 94 received government scholarships to study in blue economy field since 2014

 

Ninety-four in-service and pre-service individuals have since 2014 benefitted from a government scholarship to study in a field related to the blue economy.

Out of that total, 68 studied for a first degree, 24 for a masters, one for work attachment and one for doctorate.

Vice President Vincent Meriton, who also has the portfolio for blue economy, gave those figures to the National Assembly yesterday when answering a related question by elected member for Mont Buxton Gervais Henrie who wanted an overview of different aspects related to the blue economy sector since its inception, namely job opportunities and fields of specialisation, new opportunities and investment, monetary value…

VP Meriton stressed that the figures provided by the Agency for National Human Resource Development (ANHRD) does not reflect the current reality entirely as they do not include individuals who have benefited from scholarships from other non-governmental organisations as well as those who have funded their own studies or changed their field of studies.

The different areas of study include environmental science, marine biology, sustainable development, oceanography to name but some.

VP Meriton also noted that the University of Seychelles (UniSey) is this year introducing a master’s degree course in marine science and climate change.

Meanwhile, he added that the Seychelles Maritime Studies Academy has also been significantly contributing manpower to the blue economy sector with 721 students graduating since 2015. He added that more career opportunities will be created through ongoing projects in the sector.

The vice president explained that the term blue economy was first started to be used in 2012 during a United Nations conference on sustainable development also known as RIO+ 20. For Seychelles, the blue economy is a concept which simply includes activities which take place in our marine space, use of resources in the marine space, services related to these activities and it also includes placing emphasis on the need for sustainable management and practices of these activities to ensure future generations also benefit.

Additionally, it also stresses on the need to strike the right balance between development and conservation.

VP Meriton explained that after the blue economy department was set up a few years ago, a lot of effort and emphasis were placed on developing policies and other frameworks to build up and strengthen its capacity and ability to accomplish its objective. And this is to guide the country towards strategic directives and coordinate the implementation of the blue economy.

The blue economy is part of our continued effort to develop our country in a sustainable manner.

He said Seychelles received help from the Commonwealth to develop a roadmap for the development of its blue economy. It is important to note that the blue economy department plays more of a coordination and facilitation role.

With regards to new investments that the sector has brought for Seychelles, VP Meriton said the blue economy has a multi-sectorial scope which comprises the two traditional sectors as well as new sectors. For the traditional sectors many of the activities have been practiced for many years but more emphasis is now being placed on sustainable practices which was not the case previously.

As to new investments in the traditional sectors, VP Meriton said reference is to efforts made to reinforcing, broadening ad diversifying activities which were already being carried out. These include for instance investments to boost value addition to fish.

“The department of blue economy has worked closely with the fishery sector to encourage more businesses and products in value addition. To make this possible the government has made available to the public a financial facility known as the ‘Blue Bond’ worth US $15 million in the form of loan and grant.

Grant worth US $ 3 million is managed by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) while the loan worth US $12 million is managed by the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS).

Business development like shipyards are being encouraged by the department to extend.

Another example is the redevelopment and extension of Port Victoria to make it more effective and sustainable.

There is also a sum of US $1.5 million being managed by the SeyCCAT under the debt swap. Altogether SeyCCAT has 34 projects which have been funded by the debt swap and the blue grant.

Other initiatives are in the tourism sector which promote conservation through coral farming, mangrove restoration on North Island, Fregate, Cousin... among others.

VP Meriton explained that there are investments which are classified as entirely new and these include aquaculture in which Seychelles has already spent US $5.5 million in the setting up of different related experimental structures and Broodstock. It is also expecting to collect US $2.5 million per year with licenses, application fees and levy.

VP Meriton said an investment of US $4.4 million is still to be made by government to complete the aquaculture project.

In the renewable energy sector, there is the floating PV project which VP Meriton said is being finalised with the Seychelles Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC). He went on to point out that its aim is to identify all the potential of the sector as well as train some 100 entrepreneurs with a strong participation of women and young people.

Initiatives are also extended to research expeditions, the extension of the Mascareignes Plateau with Mauritius.

With regards to the monetary value of the different investments, VP Meriton explained that all the revenue collected with the new investments are listed and reflected under other sectors in view that the blue economy does not have a statistical account of its own, but this is being addressed. He said this year with the support of the European Union (EU) a term of reference has been drafted and a consultant identified to carry out the work.

In view that the sector is gaining momentum, VP Meriton said there is a need to start an exercise to address this issue. But in the absence of figures, VP Meriton explained that the department itself has a unit of young, key professionals with diverse specialisations who drive the sector by developing policies and programmes and mobilise resources.

 

Marie-Anne Lepathy

 

 

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