Kenya’s efforts to position the blue economy sector as a key driver of the country’s transformation received a major boost Monday commissioning of Bandari Maritime Academy in Mombasa County.
During the launch, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a raft of reforms the government is undertaking to secure both local and international seafaring jobs for Kenyan youth.
He said the new institution will be key in equipping young Kenyans with the requisite skills and knowhow to enable them compete favourably for employment opportunities in the vast blue economy sector.
“The Academy is expected to become a top supplier of world class seafarers for shipping lines all over the world,” the President said.
Bandari Maritime Academy will partner with the Kenya Utalii College, the Kisumu Maritime Centre and also establish twinning arrangements with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Training Academy based in Naples, Italy.
“I am confident that the enhanced training will bring out the best in our talented young people,” said Kenyatta.
The transformation of the college into a centre of excellence in maritime training and research is envisaged to facilitate the country’s quest to reap maximum benefits from the blue economy sector.
4.8 billion US Dollars
It is estimated that blue economy, if properly harnessed, has the potential to inject up to 4.8 billion US dollars to Kenya’s economy and create over 52,000 jobs in the next 10 years.
He also announced the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) and witnessed the signing of a new shareholding agreement between KNSL, Kenya Ports Authority and the MSC aimed at restoring the state corporation into a world class shipping company.
“The shareholding agreement we have signed today, marks the beginning of our well thought out plan to transform the Kenya National Shipping Line into a world class shipping line, over the next ten years,” he announced.
He said MSC, the second largest shipping line in the world, which has been a strategic partner with the KNSL since 1997 will assist in re-engineering KNSL into a world class entity.
“The Agreement we have just signed will, thus deepen this partnership and enable MSC, to more effectively support the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line,” he said.
KNSL was established in 1987 as a national carrier to handle containerized export and import freight cargo, to and from ports in Kenya. It however failed to to grow into an effective national carrier.
“We are here to revive that vision. The revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line will enable Kenya to benefit from the regional and global maritime transport value chain.
About 90 percent of Kenya’s foreign trade is dependent on maritime transport,” said the President.
President Kenyatta said since the launch of the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) in November last year to secure Kenya’s territorial waters and protect the country from threats emanating from the sea, the unit has made positive progress.
“The Coast Guard Service has maintained daily patrols of Kenya’s waters to guard against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, provided safety to seafarers, and prevented drug smuggling and other illegal movement of people and goods,” he said.