Kenya’s $8 million inaugural blue economy conference kicks off with close to 20,000 participants in attendance

Eleven heads of state are among the people expected to grace the inaugural ocean economy summit.

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  • 17,600 participants sourced from 183 countries  and hundreds of organizations and agencies are in attendance.
  • Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was at hand to welcome foreign heads of state and pledged his administration will adopt appropriate policies, strategies and mechanisms to harness the blue economy.

17,600 participants sourced from 183 countries  and hundreds of organizations and agencies braved the chilly Nairobi morning and light drizzle to make their way to Kenyatta International Conference (KICC) where the three-day conference is taking place.

Seychelles' President Danny Faure, who was last week named the African Union champion for Blue Economy, Namibia’s Hage Geingob, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Congo’s Sassou Nguesso, Somali’s Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, and Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama are already in the country.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was at hand to welcome foreign heads of state and pledged his administration will adopt appropriate policies, strategies and mechanisms to harness the blue economy, confront, head-on, the challenge of waste management and plastic pollution, ensure responsible and sustainable fishing, and ensure safety and security in the high seas.

In his speech, President Kenyatta said that blue Economy binds humanity to a common destiny. Oceans are the heart of our planet as they contain 97% of the Earth’s water and supply nearly half the oxygen humans breathe.

It also absorbs over a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans produce and regulate the weather and temperature.

Kenya’s Permanent Secretary for Shipping and Maritime Kenya, Nancy Karigithu called for adoption of Technology to revive the country’s nascent marine industry.

"Technology wants to trigger a revolution in every sector including maritime transport. There is vessel tracking using AIS research automated vessels," said Ms Karigithu.

Canada and Japan are co-hosting the event with Kenya having each contributed Sh300 million.

“We’re honoured to be working with the Government of Kenya as a co-host of the @BlueEconomy2018 along with the @JapanGov. A #BlueEconomy and Canadian values of inclusion, sustainability and economic security go hand in hand.” Canadian Minister Wilkinson tweeted.

Despite boosting total maritime territory covering 230,000 square kilometers and a distance of 200 nautical miles offshore or better still as big as 31 of the 47 counties combined according to Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Kenya’s blue economy has laid underutilized for years thanks to lack of water tight policies, effective leadership, innovative technologies and continuous under funding by government.

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

Kenya is however, slowly waking up to that fact and has started rolling out plans to exploit the vast blue reserve.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), a multi-agency security service to tap more than $100 million going down the drain annually in illegal fishing and drug smuggling on Kenyan waters.

The Government is also in the process of reviving Kenya National Shipping Line that has the potential to contribute Sh304 billion into the country’s economy annually.

Similarly, Kenya has contracted a Dutch company to build 11 new ports as it moves to exploit the vast blue economy and boost the nascent marine industry.

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