The partnership is retuning the engine of Angola’s economy towards greener and more inclusive growth.
© Vu Minh Hieu | Angolan fisheries experts learn new approaches from their Vietnamese counterparts during a site visit in November 2023.
Angola, the Southern African nation home to more than 35 million people, is one of the 46 least developed countries (LDCs). The commodity-dependent economy, which in 2022 relied on crude oil for 94% of its exports, urgently needs to advance efforts towards a green and inclusive diversification of the economy.
Despite its rich natural resources, one third of Angola’s population still lives below the international poverty line of $2.15 per day and inequality remains striking.
Angola is focusing on developing the fisheries and aquaculture sector as one of its priority sectors. Since 2017, UNCTAD has supported the country to modernize its economy through the EU-UNCTAD Joint Programme for Angola: Train for Trade II, with funding from the European Union.
As a part of this programme, UNCTAD and the Nha Trang University of Viet Nam (NTU) are training Angolan fisheries and aquaculture sector stakeholders in sustainable fisheries management and value addition for exports. The timing is opportune, as 2023 marks five years of partnership between UNCTAD and NTU.
Speaking from Viet Nam, UNCTAD’s director for Africa, LDCs and special programmes, Paul Akiwumi, said: “As a centre of excellence, Nha Trang University is uniquely positioned to share the lessons and good practices learned from the highly successful Vietnamese experience in fisheries and aquaculture sector development.” He underscored how Viet Nam can serve as a model for other developing countries, including LDCs in Asia and Africa.
NTU Vice Rector Pham Quoc Hung, expressed, “strong commitment and willingness to support capacity-building to develop fisheries and aquaculture for LDCs in Africa.”
A vast potential for Angola’s blue economy
Prior to 2002, Angola's fisheries industry was the country's third most significant economic sector but has since fallen behind. With its vast coastline and productive and diversified marine ecosystem, Angola has abundant marine resources.
Total official fisheries production in Angola reached over 411,000 tons in 2021. In 2022, the sector contributed approximately 4.1% to the country’s GDP. The Angola national development plan forecasts a growing contribution of fisheries to GDP, reaching 4.5% in 2027.
The national plan for fisheries intends to foster entrepreneurial fishing activity and boost fish and salt production and processing. State investments totalling $300 million have been pledged over the next five years.
In Angola the industry directly employs around 150,000 people, while in coastal communities, approximately half of the population depends directly or indirectly on fisheries.
Beyond its extensive coastline and exclusive economic zone, Angola has several opportunities to develop the fisheries sector, including through encouraging fish processing and value addition, fostering regional and international collaboration, and building enhanced foreign trade networks.
However, lack of public investment and poor infrastructure, including the provision of electricity, transport and research laboratories undermine the crucial role of the sector for the socioeconomic development of Angola.
Highlighting the sector’s potential, Mr. Akiwumi said: “Angola must view its marine and freshwater resources as strategically important for economic diversification, job creation and poverty reduction, while maintaining a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.”
Showcasing the Vietnamese fisheries development path
Viet Nam has a remarkable story of fisheries sector development, which the country is poised to share with other developing countries through South-South cooperation.
From 1997 to 2022, Vietnam’s seafood exports increased elevenfold, from $771 million to a remarkable $11.4 billion. Currently, the country is the third largest exporter of fish and fisheries products in the world. Notably, nearly 54% of national production comes from the aquaculture sub-sector.
Fisheries trade between Angola and Vietnam has also shown remarkable growth over recent years. Fisheries imports from Angola reached $15 million in 2022, making Viet Nam the top fisheries trade partner of Angola.
Crucial South-South cooperation and triangular partnership
UNCTAD’s workshop on adding value sustainably to fisheries and aquaculture products for exports, delivered from 30 October to 3 November in collaboration with the NTU, was a clear demonstration of successful South-South cooperation and effective triangular cooperation, with the EU providing financial support.
The initiative also demonstrated Viet Nam's keen interest in South-South cooperation and the country’s willingness to share its valuable experience with other developing countries, including LDCs.
South-South cooperation, beyond offering opportunities for trade and investment expansion, has a key role in promoting the transfer of technology, knowledge and expertise through programmes, projects and initiatives in countries of the Global South, including in Angola.
The training workshop for 21 Angolan fisheries sector experts from the private and public sectors was complemented by site visits to better understand the Vietnamese approach. They learned about strategies necessary to enhance the role of fisheries in trade, key perspectives on sustainability and global good practices on value addition.
Participants appreciated the packed training agenda, which offered a rich combination of theory, discussions and practice through field visits. Saraiva Santos, president of Angola’s aquaculture association, said it was “the best delivered training with the greatest value added in the past 20 years.”
Thanks to the support of the International Standardization Organization and Viet Nam’s national standardization body STAMEQ, the participants gained knowledge of relevant international standards for fisheries exports and shared experiences on improving international competitiveness while ensuring food safety.