Aquaculture development in sub-Saharan Africa has been sporadic and in many cases has failed to live up to expectations. It currently accounts for less than one percent of world production, and while there are many causative factors that have retarded its development, one is a lack of suitable aquafeeds. The purpose of this study was to determine the status of commercial aquafeed production in sub-Saharan Africa, and to provide an indication of the region's potential to produce aquafeeds. Five countries were taken as case studies - South Africa, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and Zambia.
Surveys of the existing aquaculture and aquafeed industries were undertaken. In addition, as it is generally held that the development of a commercial aquafeed sector requires an existing livestock feed industry - that can supply both technological and feed ingredient inputs - the livestock feed industries in each country were also examined.
The aquaculture production reported for the five countries in this study was found to vary between 1 000 and 30 776 tonnes per annum. While Nigeria was the largest producer, Zambia reported the lowest production. With respect to aquafeed production, Nigeria was the largest producer of manufactured aquafeeds, and reported a production figure of 10 760 tonnes of feed both in 2000 and 2001. In contrast, Kenya reported no commercial aquafeed production during this period. With the exception of South Africa, farm-made feeds were found to supply a significant proportion of all the countries' aquafeed requirements.
Almost without exception, tilapia, carp and catfish were cultured across the region. A number of other species were also reported - these include trout, mullet, snakehead, crocodile and ornamental fish species. South Africa was the only country to report mariculture operations. These included shrimp, crayfish, oyster and mussel culture.
A review of the feed ingredients available to the livestock and aquafeed industries revealed that the major feed ingredients that are used in livestock feed production were generally available across the region. Those that were not or were found to be in short supply could be sourced from the international commodity suppliers. In some countries, difficulties were reported in obtaining supplies of fish oils as well as specialised vitamin and mineral mixes.
A projection of future aquafeed requirements for 2015 suggests that at an annual growth rate of 10 percent (across the aquafeed production sector), all the countries will have the potential to produce sufficient aquafeeds using existing production capacity.
A number of key indicators that provide a measure of a country's ability to produce aquafeeds were identified. Principally, these include the status of the existing livestock feed manufacturing capacity, the availability of suitable feed ingredients for incorporation into aquafeeds, the availability of suitably trained personnel as well as a favourable legislative and taxation system. A checklist for assessing the aquafeed production potential of a sub-Saharan country was developed.