A snapshot of the challenges and opportunities
The region is facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities as a result of increasing global competition for its natural resources, as well as huge interest from foreign investors in agriculture, energy, fisheries, forestry, infrastructure, mining, telecoms and trade in general. Tanzania and Mozambique, for instance, are among those sub-Saharan African countries that have enjoyed long-term economic growth rates that match or even exceed those of the Asian tigers. Kenya and Tanzania have become two of the first member countries of the new East Africa Common Market, which is expected to boost cross-border trade, investment and employment.
Politically, these countries are under immense pressure to reduce their high poverty rates and provide more services to their rapidly expanding populations. More than 20 million people live along the coast in these three countries, and this figure is expected to double by 2030. Yet, despite these demands, all three countries have demonstrated interest in embracing sustainable development options. In Kenya, model energy and forest projects have recently received international attention. In Tanzania, a bold moratorium on new investments for bio fuels was introduced last year; and, in Mozambique, the country’s economically important prawn fishery is undergoing a rigorous assessment to meet the Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-friendly certification standards.
All this represents an enormous challenge to the governments involved, not least with respect to the management of these investment forces in a way that safeguards the region’s biodiversity and protects people’s livelihoods.
A challenge will be to convince people that money donated or invested in Coastal East Africa concretely helps conservation, despite the ongoing challenges.