Africa's nascent farmed tilapia market has been held back for decades, limiting producers' potential, all because the right infrastructure has not -- until now -- been in place, said the top executive of the continent's largest producer.

"A glomeration effect you would get in a larger industry does not yet exist to enable industry growth," Tembwe Mutungo, co-CEO of South Africa-based FirstWave Group.

For years, local farms have lacked sufficient equipment and scale, feed companies had little presence and in general fish health was poor.