Kenya’s maritime security has received a major boost after Japan donated new patrol boats at a cost of Sh534 million.
The new modern surveillance boats will help Kenya harness and protect its blue economy resources.
Kenya has been facing the tough task of ensuring maritime security in its Indian Ocean territory as the blue economy grows.
Securing sea transport is particularly significant taking into account the fact that the Port of Mombasa is the gateway for the region’s imports, experts say.
Japanese defence attachee to Kenya Cdr Takao Katsumata told Shipping and Logistics the focus of its latest support to Kenya’s maritime and blue economy growth involves providing modern surveillance boats along the seas.
As part of the support, Japan has provided patrol motorboats — two Speed Patrol and four Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) — to the Kenya Fisheries Service, at a cost of Sh267 million.
The plan has also seen Japan provide separate patrol motorboats — 17 Fiber-reinforced plastic boats — to Maritime Police Unit at a cost of Sh267 million.
The Kenya Coast Guard Service will be able to use the 17 patrol vessels provided by Japan to maintain order in the sea.
Maritime insecurity has taken its toll on both local and global trade, according to a 2017 report by the International Peace Support Training Centre Nairobi, titled An Assessment of Maritime Insecurity in the Kenya Maritime Domain.
“Maritime security provides a platform for sustainable sea resource exploitation to guarantee wealth and job creation. Ninety per cent of trade transacted in Africa passes through the Indian Ocean with Kenyan transacting about 92 per cent of its trade through the Indian Ocean,” said the report.
The study comprehensively spelt out the state of maritime insecurity along the coastline and the possible measures that need to be taken to address the menace.
“By 2010, maritime insecurity in eastern Africa had caused the global community equivalent of Sh1.8 trillion and the cost to Kenya alone was between Sh30 billion and 40 billion raising insurance cost with negative effects on regional economies,” added the report.
Kenya’s Indian Ocean domain occupies 245,320 Km2 made up of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of 142,000 Km2 and an extended continental shelf of 103,320 Km2.
Geographically, Kenya has an expansive coastal ocean line of 536km in length.
Kenya’s marine and coastal fisheries have a high potential for growth. Addressing Africa’s first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi in 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that Kenya’s marine resources could easily contribute three times its present share of gross domestic product, create jobs and bring prosperity to millions of Kenyans.
The sector already supports an estimated two million people directly and indirectly as fishers, traders, processers, input suppliers, merchants of fishing accessories, and providers of related services.
It plays an important role in job creation, income generation, nutrition and food security.
The government’s focus on the blue economy has placed the fisheries sector prominently on the country’s radar.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said earlier Kenya has prioritized the sustainable utilization of its ocean and blue economy resources as an enabler of the Vision 2030 economic blueprint.
"It is clear that the ocean economy is a smart investment that can deliver social, economic, and environmental benefits to our people.
"As such, Kenya is keen to fully realize the potential of its 142,400 square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone. However, as we do so, we will steadfastly protect our marine resources even as we pursue its enhanced development and productivity," the President said.