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Personal Finance

Blue economy new frontier for Kenya

Sustainable Blue Economy
Delegates follow proceedings of the Sustainable Blue Economy conference held in Nairobi last November. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU 

I am writing this column from Kisumu. I have always wondered how the region takes advantage of Lake Victoria as an economic resource.

I am aware that fishing is one of the main economic activities around here.

I have heard of the ferry that links an island town to the main land and I have seen the hyacinth menace.

However, a lot more can be done to fully exploit the economic opportunities that the lake offers, for example transportation between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania

To start with, we can have an intra-regional ferry service linking towns bordering the lake to transport people, cargo and improve trade.

The blue economy is an emerging global issue which refers to sustainable exploitation of water resources. Kenya is lucky to have a lot of water bodies whose potential can be harnessed to improve the economy.

Last year, Nairobi was privileged to host the world’s first conference on the blue economy. I am glad that there are a lot of initiatives being implemented after the conference. The main theme during the conference was on harnessing the potential of water bodies so as to improve livelihoods.

The meeting also focussed on blue economy based innovations. The economy includes activities like fishing, farming, irrigation, transport, energy, tourism and bio prospecting.

There have been blue economy activities like marine tourism and therefore the concept is not altogether new to Kenya.

Sustainable blue economy activities touch on the environment, water, international treaties and even county government laws.

It is therefore important to have a clear and harmonised approach to the same. There is a department and committee to deal with blue economy issues, hence a level of collaboration between the different regulators.

At the last conference, 41 countries and organisations made commitments to the blue economy objectives. Some of commendable initiatives by Kenya in support of the blue economy include enacting the Coast Guards Act and unveiling a Coast Guard Unit to promote security.

This year, a joint project was launched by Kenya and Uganda to clean up Lake Victoria.

Blue economy initiatives have taken root globally. Last year, the Seychelles launched its first blue bond which raised over $10 million (Sh1.02 billion).

Innovative projects, both at the national and county level, can ride on this emerging trend.

How can counties bordering large water bodies take advantage of this initiative to raise finance for projects? How can public-private partnerships in these areas be strengthened to enhance economic development?

There is a policy framework to support blue economy initiatives.

Perhaps it is time to prioritise some blue economy projects because this is a current global issue. The Seychelles was able to raise a lot of money and attract investors for the venture. It would be interesting to see Kenya issue a blue bond.

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