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Spotlight on the Aquaculture Africa 2023 (Zambia) as Conference programme is announced

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By Milthon Lujan

Afraq2023

It is less than a month until Zambia meets the world for the 2nd Aquaculture Africa Conference scheduled for 13-16 November 2023 in Lusaka. Themed “Resilient value chains in the blue economy” AFRAQ23 is expected to bring together over 700 industry, academic, government, development partner delegates from several countries in Africa and across the world to connect and celebrate achievements in the aquaculture developmental journey, but also to find solutions to some of the challenges impacting the sustainability of the sector.

Within the blue economy drive, aquaculture is increasingly important as an environmentally sustainable way to meet global demand for blue foods – bearing in mind the continent’s vast inland waters and coastlines which are largely untapped and have great potential to contribute to the nutrition and socio-economic development needs of the region.

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The conference scientific and technical programme which is under finalisation is largely packed with multi-sessions that resonate to the conference theme of “sustainability”, balancing global and African perspectives – thanks to the efforts as led by renowned Programme Chairs, Professor Peter Britz (Rhodes University, South Africa) and Prof Cyprian Katongo (University of Zambia).

The first keynote address “The evolution and development of aquaculture in Zambia – from an industry perspective” will feature Zambia’s aquaculture value chain development journey, from being a small producer decades ago, to one of the top and fastest aquaculture producing countries in Africa today. The presentation will be delivered by Mr. Fisho Patrick Mwale, Chairman of the Aquaculture Development Association of Zambia (ADAZ); an entrepreneur and investment adviser – who is also the co-founder and pioneer of Yalelo Ltd – currently the largest freshwater aquaculture venture in Sub-saharan Africa.

Africa is currently experiencing massive investment in aquaculture that has led to the growth of the industry on various water bodies. This growth and intensification of production has resulted into disease situations being documented for the first time in various parts of the continent. The effective development and implementation of aquatic animal health programmes is paramount to the sustainability of the sector. Dr. Hang’ombe Bernard Mudenda, a renowned fish disease professional from the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of Zambia will deliver a keynote speech on the subject matter, with special emphasis on recent developments in Africa. Dr. Mudenda has over the years worked with FAO, WOAH, Africa Union and other partner organisations on elements of building capacity on aquatic animal health and biosecurity in Africa. The World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA) and their associates in Africa will subsequently feature a number of technical sessions on aquatic animal health at AFRAQ23.

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Aller Aqua, the AFRAQ23 gold sponsor will sponsor and convene technical sessions on select African country industry experiences on aquaculture, aquafeeds development and farmers forums. As in Egypt last year (AFRAQ21), Aller Aqua will once again feature a large exhibition booth showcasing their brand, products, services and activities in Africa.

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What is most unique at AFRAQ23 is the presence of a number of developmental organisations who will be hosting a number of special side-sessions and workshops covering some key thematic areas. On 15th November 2023, the FAO in collaboration with World Bank and Aquaculture Network for Africa (ANAF) will be hosting a special “Africa day” session focusing on crucial topics for advancing the aquaculture sector in Africa, including relevant global and regional processes, technologies and innovations, investment, trade, and value chains as well as partnerships. Various speakers from FAO, partner organisations and projects actors in Africa will be present at this event.

The American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health Program (WISHH), another silver sponsor to AFRAQ23 has organised a Fish Farmers’ Panel Discussion – where operators of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will discuss some elements of developing and strengthening aquaculture value chains for SMEs. WISHH will be bringing a group of SME aquaculture operators from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania as well as experts from the USA.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has also taken up silver sponsorship role to AFRAQ23. GIZ is implementing a Programme for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture in nine countries (Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Madagascar, Mauritania, India, Cambodia, Mozambique and Ghana) and will convene sessions on Aquaculture Adaptation to Climate Change and Education for Aquaculture: Development and implementation of tailor-made training concepts.

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The WorldFish – another silver sponsor, which has various projects in Zambia and other African countries will feature strongly at AFRAQ23 where, in collaboration with state and non-state actors in Zambia they will host a special session entitled ‘Thriving Food Systems Through Innovative Financing’. The Director General of WorldFish, Dr. Essam Yassin Mohammed is expected to grace the Opening Ceremony of AFRAQ23.

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One of the biggest sessions at AFRAQ23 is on Aquaculture Finance and Investment. The Africa Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) as led by Dr Bernice Mclean (Head of Blue Economy) will once again team up with AquaSpark in hosting the session – building up on momentum, and lessons learnt out of the inaugural and overwhelmingly attended Finance and Investment session at the AFRAQ21, Egypt. Various other organisations and institutions such as Grand Fish Feed Ltd, SADC, COMESA, University of Zambia and others will be hosting several other sessions as listed on the program grid.

The WAS African Chapter (WAS-AC) will also take the opportunity to physically launch its Africa Student Forum following recent WAS student policy and strategy changes. A number of exciting social networking opportunities will be outlined for African students. WAS-AC will also conduct its inaugural honors and awards ceremony during the Opening Ceremony and Annual Business Meeting – where WAS membership and partners and all those interested in the Chapter’s activities are invited.

The technical and scientific programme and diverse parallel sessions will be complemented by a major international trade show, while the farmers forums provide an opportunity for producers from around Zambia and Africa to share information on challenges, techniques and new developments. A field trip has been planned to some of the active aquaculture sites in Zambia at Siavonga/Lake Kariba and around Lusaka.

No doubt, the conference – which will be held at a majestic setting at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Lusaka will aim to cater to the broad range of interests in aquaculture – providing a learning, information-sharing and networking opportunity for entrepreneurs, business, scientists, technical specialists, educators, students, policy-makers and public officials. There is just something for everyone there!

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The conference is hosted by the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. Aller Aqua is the Gold sponsor. WISHH, GIZ and WorldFish are silver sponsors. Various other session sponsors, collaborators and media partners will be listed in the programme book, which is under finalisation. The draft programme grid and sessions at a glance are available here.

Conference details
Venue: Mulungushi International Convention Centre (MICC) https://www.micc.co.zm/
Dates: 13-16 November 2023
Registration: Register online here or visit at www.was.org (Aquaculture Africa 2023).
Exhibition and trade show: Register online at www.was.org or contact mario@marevent.com .
Issued by: WAS-AC and AFRAQ23 Organising Committee
Media contact: africanchapter@was.org

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