Kenya is sitting on a gold mine but failure to exploit its vast blue economy is clogging her economic growth

Ordinary Kenyans can chip in by consuming more fish from the current 4.6Kgs to an average of 10Kgs.

Kenya’s total maritime territory covers 230,000 square kilometers and a distance of 200 nautical miles offshore or more locally it is as big as 31 of the 47 counties combined according to Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).

“I am sure that the maritime sector has the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of jobs within its 15 sub-sectors and 87 areas of activity,”Nancy Karigithu, the Permanent Secretary in charge of Shipping and Maritime Affairs said at a past conference on blue economy.

Lack of sound policies, effective leadership, innovative technologies coupled with continuous under funding has resulted in Kenya sitting on a gold mine without getting much desirable output.

As a result the country is missing out on more than Sh90 billion ($867m) annually not to mentioned hundreds of jobs the marine sector could have generated.

“Blue economy in Kenya entails development of the existing opportunities such as deep sea fishing, aquaculture, sports fishing and artisanal fishing and future uses such as deep sea mining, Wind Energy, luxury tourism and Marinas” head of Commercial Shipping at KMA said in his message during Kenya’s world marine time day.

Ordinary Kenyans can also chip in and invest in the blue economy by consuming more fish from the current 4.6Kgs to the African average of 10Kgs and later progress to the global average of 20 kilogrammes.

Kenya does not also offer bunkering (fuelling) services for ships plying its waters and this means that shipping firms have to carry enough fuel for the return trip. As a result, they carry fewer containers and pass on the cost to the Kenyan economy.

Should Kenya be wise and set up this service, it would save billions of shillings on cargo and freight charges alone.

Over 92 percent of Kenya’s international trade is transported on the sea but to this day local investors have not been keen to invest in the maritime sector.

Estimated annual economic value of goods and services in the marine and coastal ecosystem in Blue Economy in Western Indian Ocean today is slightly over $22 billion with Kenya’s share slightly over $4.4 billion with tourism sector taking the lion share of over $4.1 billion.

Kenyan coast is also one of the most preferred destinations for sport fishing.

Malindi for instance is the only place in the world that offers the best chance of catching five different billfish species in one day – broadbill swordfish, black, blue and striped marlin and sailfish – yet this potential has not been exploited.

In Africa, 38 countries are coastal and therefore can immensely benefit from the it should their government act decisively and come up with water tight policies which attracts investors.

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