The 2nd Aquaculture Africa Conference (AFRAQ23) took place from November 13-16, 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia. Themed Resilient value chains in the blue economy, AFRAQ23 attracted nearly 1,200 attendees from industry, academia, government, and development partner delegates spanning from 73 countries around the world, but mostly Africa. The event also happened at a time when WAS-AC was celebrating five years of existence.
The event was joined by the Minister of Fisheries and Livestock, Makozo Chikote and other senior state dignitaries from Zambia and other African countries. High-level guests from WAS, FAO, WorldFish, Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern Africa Development Co-operation (SADC), Africa Union (AU) also joined at the opening ceremony of AFRAQ23.
At the inaugural WAS-AC honors and awards ceremony, Sherif Sadek, an aquaculture expert, supplier and shrimp production operator from Egypt, was recognized for his role in serving as the first Chapter President (2018-2022), as well as chairperson of the inaugural Aquaculture Africa 2021 (AFRAQ21) held in Egypt in 2022.
Other special honorees include the AUDA-NEPAD for its role in hosting the secretariat of WAS-AC; the South African government through the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DFFE) for its role in supporting the establishment of WAS-AC since 2017. Aller Aqua, the chapter’s funding Gold Sponsor and Gold Sponsor to AFRAQs was also recognized for its industrious role in developing aquaculture in Africa. The government of Zambia received a special appreciation award for its contribution to hosting AFRAQ23.
The program featured 44 sessions, 225 abstracts and 49 posters. Some developmental organizations hosted several special side sessions and workshops covering various key thematic areas. These include AUDA-NEPAD, FAO, World Bank, WorldFish, Aquaculture Network for Africa (ANAF), the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health Program (WISHH), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), COMESA, SADC, Aquaculture Without Frontiers (AwF), WAVMA and others.
The presence of major industry players such as Aller Aqua, Yalelo, Lake Harvest Aquaculture, Aquaspark, Grand Group for Fish Feed, Chicoa Fish Farm Mozambique and others, as well as several SMEs in aquaculture from Zambia and Africawide was noteworthy.
The technical and scientific program was complemented by an international trade show that featured 55 booths from 22 countries, including a Zambia aquaculture pavilion which showcased the country’s aquaculture industry and some projects. An aquaculture tour concluded the AFRAQ23 program with delegates having the opportunity to visit some active aquaculture sites in Siavonga/Lake Kariba and around Lusaka.
The WAS-AC executive board of directors also had its annual board meeting. Foluke Areola from Nigeria is the new president of the Chapter for the 2023-2025 term, taking over from John Walakira. WAS-AC also launched its Africa Student Forum following recent WAS student policy and strategy changes and launched a platform for Portuguese-speaking countries (PALOP).