Kenya can create 12,000 jobs and generate an extra Sh20 billion annually to the economy if a new Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) strategic plan is fully implemented.
In the four-year plan, the government agency says Kenya would create the jobs in the fishing sector by constructing fishing ports in Shimoni, Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu.
The plan is dubbed Promoting sustainable maritime development and covers between 2019 and 2022. It identifies shipping as one of the biggest trading areas with potential for huge growth if good policies are put in place.
“Ninety per cent of Kenya’s international trade is seaborne of which we pay out to foreign shipping lines and ships agents more than Sh300 billion annually representing an opportunity to implement policies to retain a portion of these earnings and create employment,” says part of the plan.
The KMA further says Kenya’s maritime transport service contributes approximately Sh73 billion per year, with fisheries generating 48.8 billion.
Enforcing measures to land fish caught in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), the agency adds, will quickly raise fish processing capacity from the current 2,500 metric tonnes to 18,650 metric tonnes within the next one and half years.
The KMA adds that increasing annual per capita fish consumption from the current 4.6kg to the African average of 10kg and progressively to the global average of 20kg will increase investment opportunity, create more jobs and enhance food security for Kenya.
During a blue economy conference in Nairobi, KMA Director-General Major (Rtd) George Okong’o said fishing is a key part of the blue economy, which needs to be fully exploited to benefit Kenyans more.
“In recognition of the fact that maritime and marine resources particularly in developing countries have remained largely untapped, blue economy offers a great opportunity for sustainable use of the marine space and resources to bring economic and social benefits,” he said.
In the strategic plan, KMA estimates that Kenya’s blue economy contributes an estimated Sh178.8 billion to the GDP annually. This could rise significantly to Sh430 billion if the sector’s potential is fully developed.
During the conference, Kenya and the rest of Africa assured the world of the continent’s commitments towards unlocking the full potential of Africa’s blue economy.
The undertaking is in line with the African Union(AU) 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy commonly referred to as the ‘2050 AIM’ Strategy.
State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Nancy Karigithu and other African leaders said in Oslo that Africa is determined to make sure the positive impact of the sector is felt.
Dr Karigithu led a Kenyan delegation to participate in the Nor-Shipping 2019 Africa Conference in Oslo, Norway. between June 3 and June 7.
The delegation included, among others, Kenya Maritime Authority’s (KMA) head of commercial shipping John Omingo who represented KMA Director-General Major (Rtd) George Okong’o, and chairman of Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) Juvenal Shiundu who also the acting director in charge of the Technical Cooperation Division at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Dr Karigithu told the more than 50,000 delegates that Kenya has put up sustainability measures to address challenges facing the sector and looking at how it can be sustained both for the current and future generations.
She further said that Kenya’s hosting of the global blue economy meeting in Nairobi last year exhibited the extent of Kenya’s commitment to have the sector become beneficial to its people.
“Last year, Kenya hosted the first ever blue economy conference and we have since then been aligning our activities towards achieving the same,” the PS said.
“We are also building sustainability as we are also developing our sector which puts us in a very difficult platform.
Norway is already developed as we are beginning to think of the challenges of this kind of development and the need to put in sustainability measures,” said Dr Karigithu.
Seychelles Vice-President Mr Vincent Emmanuel said his country is developing a framework that will allow a continental strategy respecting the national policies and programmes of each country, whilst also agreeing to the guiding principles that countries will agree upon.
“The inclusion of an Africa Programme in the Nor-Shipping Conference is indicative that the world recognized the success stories taking place within Africa,” he said.
He also he reiterated his country’s commitment to further develop the blue economy agenda in Africa.
“We are now setting our priorities for the future development of Africa’s blue economy by doubling our efforts to work with all states across the globe, in particular those in our region,” he said.
Mr Emmanuel said his country is busy implementing its economic activities based on the blue economy agenda with a view of unlocking its full potential.
“In Seychelles, our economic activities around the blue economy concept did not start just a couple of years back. We have done these activities throughout centuries and what is new now is that there is a sense of sustainability added to the mix. We have to ensure that whatever we do, on land and on the ocean, is something that is sustainable and which can allow our generations to come to avail themselves of the resources that the ocean offers,” he added.
He said that the debate on the value of the blue economy as a concept is over and African countries are in an era where governments are actively implementing tangible projects based on the same.
The AU’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Leonel said during the conference that the narrative of looking at Africa as continent where things do not happen is going to change.
“It is going to change because the dynamism of the AU today is really strong. We however also need to set proper institutional structures of governance in order to implement whatever plan, whatever strategy comes with the blue economy,” she said.
Mrs Veronica Nduati, the head of Womesa secretariat in Kenya said the blue economy is a gold mine that has not been well exploited. ‘Womesa’ stands for Association for Women in the Maritime Sector for Eastern and Southern Africa region.
“In Africa we are looking for real answers to grow its potential. If we are willing to watch Africa grow this is one area where it’s a goldmine for Africa,” she said.
She further said that women only account for two per cent of the total workforce working within the blue economy sector and called to have more women on board.
“If you are to bring and harness, foster and encourage peaceful coexistence between communities, gender, then it is important to bring women on board,” she added.
Olajobi Makinwa, the Chief Intergovernmental Relations & Africa UN Global Compact, said at the conference that there was need to look at the commonalities among the players in the sector.
“If it is the business sector, governments or be it civil societies, we have to all come together and address this sector in the honest and holistic way. The potentials are there but we now want to take action so let bring all the stakeholders on board and not reinvent the will,” she said.
Ms Ingela Ek, an Export Credit Expert from Norway, said the ease of doing business is the key for making it in Africa.
“Africa is an underdeveloped but an emerging market which growth potential is very huge. There are businesses that can be a potential if you dare to take it,” she said.
“You must recognise that the blue economy is cross sectoral; it is not one sector. Do responsible management by striking the right balance between protection and production knowledge. Think in a generational perspective,” said Norway’s Foreign Affairs minister Ine Eriksen when she addressed the African panel.
Last November, Kenya held its first ever blue economy conference in Nairobi and which brought sector players from around the world.
President Uhuru Kenyatta lauded the three-day global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference saying that it provided an avenue for the world to make innovative and practical contributions to harness the full potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers and expand opportunities for all.
“The truly global representation at this Conference and its far reaching and collective beneficial outcomes, have reaffirmed my belief in the transformative power of multilateralism,” Mr Kenyatta said when he closed the conference.
President Kenyatta had then in his address raised the red flag over unsustainable exploitation of the blue economy and called on delegates to put long-term common interests above short-term selfish motivations.
“Managing oceans, lakes and seas is complex and it requires us all to put long-term common interests above short-term self-interest. Failing that, our waters could easily become the tragedy of the commons of the 21st century,” he said.
The Nairobi conference came up with the Nairobi Statement of Intent on Advancing Global Sustainable Blue Economy, where the President urged the delegates to implement the identified strategies to expand economies, create shared prosperity and increase revenues and job opportunities through ocean-based industries.
Kenya has already identified fishing and shipping as major sectors to drive realisation of the blue economy’s potential.