Investing in Critical Infrastructure, Port Development Key for Blue Economy
On the sidelines of the ongoing international conference on “Sustainable Maritime Development Towards 2030 and Beyond” being held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, World Maritime News had the opportunity to speak with Nancy Karigithu, Principal Secretary for State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs (SD&MA), Kenya.
Referring to the country’s progress and the future steps in availing of the potential of Blue Economy, Karigithu said that this is a new concept adopted by Kenya. Its development in terms of infrastructure has seen a lot of investment in that area with the aim “to create the right environment for investment and for facilitation of the Blue Economy.”
The principal Kenyan seaport, the port of Mombasa, is the gateway to the eastern and central African region and therefore plays a big role in the Blue Economy move. Karigithu explained that the government is undertaking critical infrastructure projects, including the development of the railway system for the transportation of cargo from the port to the hinterland, as well as the ongoing development of another international port, namely the Lamu Port.
As part of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, the new port represents a government initiative to develop a second deep sea port along the Kenyan coast. The first of the proposed 32 berths at the Lamu Port was scheduled for official opening in October this year.
“Capacity building (in terms of human resources) is also the key of the government’s agenda due to creation of jobs and giving the youth the tools and skills to participate in international shipping,” she added.
Capacity building would facilitate the development of the country’s own Blue Economy, therefore helping Kenya take part in the global industry in a sustainable manner, but it would also provide for export of labor. In November 2018, the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an executive order setting up the Bandari Maritime Academy in order to be able to create a maritime center of excellence in maritime training. The move was undertaken in order to develop Kenya’s maritime sector, but also to enable the country to tap into foreign exchange in terms of employment in the international shipping fleet.
Furthermore, Kenya is hosting The Africa Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre that has a goal of reducing or mitigating the effects of shipping in port cities. MTCC Africa is undertaking a number of pilot projects towards this area in terms of data collection that are envisioned to lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases from the shipping and maritime sector.
Speaking about the greatest maritime potential in Kenya, Karigithu pointed out the port industry as a sector that can facilitate trade and a gateway in terms of logistics. She explained that the country plans to create a free trade zone within the port, therefore enhancing the role it plays in the Blue Economy.
“We are also looking at shipping, maritime training and capacity building, not only for Kenya but also for the region around Kenya and East Africa, as well as taking account of the developments in the region, such as the discovery of minerals which accelerated the development of the shipping segment,”
Touching upon the topic of “Empowering Women” at this year’s conference in Jeddah, Karigithu said that Kenya has been “very focused on creating gender equality, not just in the maritime sector but in the work place generally.”
She explained that the government has been very supportive of the initiative aiming to attract more women to the maritime sector. As an example, Kenya organized networks that enable women to get as much knowledge and information as possible, with an aim of providing the much needed information to young people, particularly girls. In this way, girls at an early age are being informed that there is “potential for lifelong satisfying careers in this sector.”
Karigithu further said that the most common challenges that women face in the industry are based on the cultural mindsets that believe that the maritime sector is reserves for men.
She listed home front as another challenge, saying that women are generally observed as being home makers. Such a career can become a challenge “unless the whole family stands by the woman,” Karigithu concluded.
World Maritime News Staff