Musa Radoli and Bernard Gitau @PeopleDailyKE
Kenya is set to unveil more than Sh1.4 trillion investment opportunities in the blue economy that may completely transform the country’s fortunes. The government has already identified 35 projects that it expects to fast-track after hosting the world’s first international Blue Economy Conference, which opened yesterday.
These investment opportunities that could make a major contribution to the country’s annual budget that now stands at Sh3.1 trillion.
Cash inflows can also completely plug budgetary deficit currently at Sh800 billion, meaning that Kenyans can expect a lighter tax load.
“The government wants public leaders and private sector leaders to ensure that the country derives maximum benefits from the blue economy while supporting the resilience of communities and the environment, “ read the conference’s overview report.
While opening the conference yesterday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, President Uhuru Kenyatta outlined policies and strategies Kenya will take to harness water economy’s vast wealth to create job opportunities.
“I am excited by the enormous economic prospects of the blue economy. I pledge to adopt appropriate policies, strategies and mechanisms to harness the blue economy,” Uhuru said. Kenya has a vast maritime territory of 230,000 square kilometres and a distance of 200 miles offshore, that is yet to be exploited fully.
The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, Kenya has only focused on fisheries both for domestic and export markets accounting for only about 0.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The President said Kenya is reviewing its maritime transport by building and expanding ports and shipping facilities and partnering with global shipping lines to extend Kenya maritime reach.
“We are enhancing capabilities for Kenya Seafarers to work on ships across the vast oceans by upgrading the Kenya maritime School,” said Uhuru adding that the country has adopted a programme to accelerate the development of fisheries by increasing aquaculture.
“We prioritise fish processing, storage capacities and related blue economy industries hence creating employment,” added Uhuru.
The Head of State indicated that the recent commissioning of a new Fishery Complex Jetty to enable the docking of large fishing and patrol vessels and announced the establishment Fishing Corporation.
“Kenya has already ratified the Port State Measures Agreement that will ensure vessels flying with Kenya flags comply with measures contained in the agreement,” he added. According to the Kenya Maritime Authority, the country losses Sh 10 billion annually to illegal fishing.
The Agreement on Port State Measures is the first binding international agreement to specifically target illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The agreement reduces the incentive of such vessels to continue to operate while it also blocks fishery products derived from IUU fishing from reaching national and international markets. “To prevent IUU, I recently launched Kenya Coast Guard Service,” said the President.