State plans to train more youth in blue economy push


Ship docks at Mombasa Port. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The government is seeking to have more trained personal in maritime in a bid to increase the sector’s contribution to the economy.

Shipping and Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu said the government plans to support young people to undertake studies in the maritime sector to enable them to work at home and abroad.

“We are creating a very strong pillar for the development of the blue economy and the maritime sector,” said Ms Karigithu at the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) headquarters.

The latest plan to encourage youth to undertake maritime training is the rollout out of a dedicated fund that will see students get loans to finance their education.

Three government institutions have signed a service contract to set up a Maritime Education Training (MET) financial support programme that will help finance education of beneficiaries.

The partnership between the Department for Maritime and Shipping Affairs through the Kenya Maritime Authority and the Higher Educations Loans Board (Helb) adds to Kenya’s efforts to tap the unexploited potential of the blue economy.

The sector has the potential to inject at least 10 percent in the country’s GDP. This, Ms Karigithu noted, cannot be realised if those working in the sector are not trained to international standards set.

Under the financing deal, Helb will provide loans which will in turn become a revolving fund for learners at the Bandari Maritime Academy.

KMA Director General Robert Njue said the support will be in form of scholarships, bursaries and loans targeting vulnerable and marginalised learners.

It will also support priority cadres critical to development of the marine sector as well as imparting the existing staff with new skills.

Helb chief executive Charles Ringera said previously the board only funded students in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions within the Ministry of Education.

He added that specialised courses like those in the maritime sector are expensive and the average Sh40,000 offered to college students is not enough, hence the need for the scheme.

Students who benefit will be required to pay the loan once they get employment.

“Those students will later be expected after they get into jobs to start repaying their money. Even though they will be working for international firms... this framework allows us to get to their salaries,” he said.

The Bandari Maritime Academy was launched in 2019 by President Uhuru Kenyatta to offer training of international standards to allow Kenyan youths get recruited by shipping lines abroad.

The institution is expected to produce at least 2,000 youth yearly for jobs that the government said will help earn the country foreign exchange.

Bandari Maritime Academy CEO Francis Muraya said the funding is key as most of the specialised courses are expensive.

Kenya has been laying strategies to tap the potential of the blue economy. It is estimated that if properly harnessed, the blue economy would inject up to Sh380 billion to the economy, while creating 52,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

Already, Sh12 billion has been set aside to promote the blue economy in the country.