AfDB jerks up Zbar’s blue economy agenda

ZANZIBAR President Hussein Mwinyi on Wednesday launched the 124bn/- African Development Bank (AfDB) funded youth Skills Development Employability in the Blue Economy Project (SEBEP).

The project will include the construction of five vocational training centres and marine training institute, finding out best practices in training of subjects related to the blue economy, entrepreneurship, and ICT empowerment among many issues to train youths in Unguja and Pemba.

Dr Mwinyi was grateful to the AfDB for funding the project that will see many young people in Zanzibar trained to get self-employed and be employable in the blue economy sector.

President Mwinyi said the AfDB’s support is in line with the Zanzibar government’s desire to create a better environment for the use of marine resources and benefit from the various opportunities in the sector.

Launching the SEBEP project, which is implemented by the Zanzibar Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Dr Mwinyi assured the bank that the government will ensure that the objectives are achieved.

“The government is committed to major reforms in education, so that all people, including youths benefit. Your support of SEBEP is timely and important,” Dr Mwinyi said.

He said obviously youth are not prepared to have the knowledge and skills to fit in the blue economy market, it will affect the country’s targets to develop young people to contribute to the economy.

Dr Mwinyi appealed to young people across the country, to use the opportunities created by AfDB including the vocational centres, to acquire skills that will enable them to develop themselves in life and get rid of poverty.

In addition, he asked all stakeholders to fully participate in facilitating the operation of the project, including government institutions to ensure that there are no obstacles in releasing funds to implement the planned works.

The Minister for Education and Vocational Training Ms Lela Mohamed Mussa said the project would be a game changer to young people, urging them to be proactive during the implementation of the project.

In her remarks, AfDB Country Manager, Ms Patricia Laverley said the board of directors of the bank group approved in October last year a grant of 48.65 million US dollars (about 112bn/-) to finance this project in partnership. The government is contributing 5.42 million US dollars (about 12bn/-).

On behalf of AfDB Group President Dr Adesina Akinumwi, the country manager said the bank acknowledges the revolutionary government of Zanzibar quest to address unemployment issues especially amongst the youth.

She hailed the government for prioritisation of the blue economy value chain, Ocean based economy, in particular, where estimates indicate that the ocean accounts for over 29 per cent of Zanzibar’s GDP and employs about 33 per cent of the labour force, both direct and indirect jobs.

“However, the relevant skills required to drive the various sectors in the blue economy are currently lacking. For example, the tourism sector which employs a large proportion of the labour force continues to be dominated by foreign workers, currently about 60 per cent of the total workforce,” she said.

Ms Laverley said this calls for affirmative action to compliment the government’s efforts in addressing youth unemployment.

She added that the bank was well aware that the facilities to provide skills to the youth remained limited, hence, the need for coming up with this intervention that will provide the requisite infrastructure, necessary equipment and relevant curricular to improve the skills of youth in various sectors of the blue economy.

She said the objective of the project is to improve access to quality and relevant skills for increased youth employability in Zanzibar’s blue economy with much focus on specific sectors of tourism, fishery, marine & maritime and oil and gas industries. It will be implemented over a period of five years (2022-2027).

“The project design took into context the Zanzibar Vision 2050 and 2021 Zanzibar Blue Economy Policy, which prioritise human resource development as a driving force toward economic and social transformation.

In addition, the project falls within the priorities of the Bank’s Country Strategy for Tanzania 2012-2025, and it is aligned with its strategic focus on improving the quality of life of Africans,” she said.

She mentioned that the project is envisaged to have benefitted about 43,000 youth (40 per cent female) from higher education, TVET and entrepreneurship training, and ultimately giving them opportunities for income and income generation.

“Entrepreneurship training and business incubation opportunities are well crafted under this project and it is expected to reach 1,500 youth, enhancing their ability to start their own enterprises and create jobs,” she said.

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