Reuben Mwambingu and Bernard Gitau
More than 300 maritime experts from 40 countries across the globe are converging in Mombasa for the first International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) conference in Africa. Participants at the four-day forum, expected to end on Friday, will discuss, among other topics, the blue economy and emerging research issues around maritime economy.
Kenya Ports Authority Acting Managing director Daniel Manduku said 330 delegates will attend the conference, with 150 of them coming from outside Africa. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi will be among the speakers and is expected to give a keynote address on technical aspects of the conference.
The theme of the conference is focused on “growing the blue economy.”
“This is quite timely and relevant to the latest renewed government‘s effort and initiatives towards promotion of the blue economy agenda,” Manduku said in a speech read on his behalf by general manager in charge of human resources and administration Amani Komora yesterday.
Manduku said about 180 research papers on maritime, shipping and ports issues will be presented during the event which he said will offer opportunity for top-notch academicians, maritime experts and practitioners, to meet and discuss current and emerging research issues that could contribute to the development of maritime economics and management disciplines. It is estimated the economy loses at least Sh88 billion due to underexploitation of Blue Economy, especially the Marine fishing.
According to Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra), in 2013, marine fishing had an annual fish potential of 350,000 tonnes yet a paltry 9,134 tonnes were harvested. It said the 350,000 tonnes was worth a whopping Sh90 billion but only Sh2.3 billion was absorbed in the economy from 9,134 tonnes.
“The full economic potential of marine resources has not been exploited, yet Kenya has a maritime territory of 230,000 square kilometres and a distance of 200 nautical miles offshore,” Kippra said, adding that illegal fishing denies Kenya revenue estimated at Sh10 billion annually.
But with Kenya preparing to host Blue Economy Conference, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau termed it as an immense opportunity for the growth of the economy.