Kenya has been positioning herself as a market leader in harnessing the economic potential of the Blue Economy.
Blue Economy Key To Attainment Of Kenya’s Vision 2030, President Kenyatta Says
President Uhurtu Kenyatta in 2020, maintained that Kenya has prioritized the sustainable utilization of its ocean and blue economy resources as an enabler of the Vision 2030 economic blueprint.
“It is clear that the ocean economy is a smart investment that can deliver social, economic, and environmental benefits to our people.
“As such, Kenya is keen to fully realize the potential of its 142,400 square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone. However, as we do so, we will steadfastly protect our marine resources even as we pursue its enhanced development and productivity,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in December 2020 while presiding over the national launch of the New Ocean Action Agenda.
According to the government, the Blue Economy in Kenya has the capacity to create 10,000 jobs and raise 480 Billion Shillings to GDP every year and has been touted as one of the frontiers that can help tackle the looming youth unemployment crisis in the country.
Efforts made by Kenya so far to promote sustainable utilization of the country’s ocean resources include; the reconstruction of the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex at a cost of Kshs 318 million, training of fishermen, set up of Bandari Maritime Academy as well as the launch of the Kenya Coast Guard Service.
Unfortunately, Kenya will not reap the benefits of the blue economy, if the management of plastic waste is not prioritized, as experts continue to warn. While Kenya has a progressive ban on plastic bags, plastic pollution in our water bodies remains a major threat.
What’s in the Blue Economy?
The Blue Economy is an emerging frontier that aims to make sustainable use of ocean resources and the maritime to foster improved livelihood and jobs creation.
The ocean is reportedly one of the biggest economic frontiers, which is valued at around US$1.5 trillion per year. 80% by volume of all global trade is moved by shipping, then there is offshore oil and gas and deep-sea mining, water sports.
Siddharth Chatterjee, the UN resident coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, while speaking at the youth conference on the Blue Economy at the UN-Habitat, cited that the biggest opportunity for the youth in the blue economy is in Aquaculture, which is the fastest-growing food sector and provides about 50% of fish for human consumption.
Globally, 350 million jobs are linked to fisheries according to data by the World Bank, which also estimates that by 2025, 34% of crude oil production will come from offshore fields.
Kenya will not harness the benefits of the blue economy if the country does not focus on preserving marine ecosystems particularly by dealing with plastic pollution, which is the biggest threat to the marine/aquatic ecosystems according to the United Nations Environment.
Current estimates by the United Nations Environment show about eight million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean each year and warn that plastic waste dumped into the ocean could increase tenfold by 2020 outnumbering fish in the ocean by 2050.
Kenya’s plastic bags ban, which has been lauded as one of the toughest in the world has helped a great deal in curbing plastic pollution but the slow infiltration of plastic bags in the market due to corruption and flexed enforcement of the existing legislation is threatening to reverse the gains made since the ban was enforced in 2017.
The Chairman of Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP), Emanuel Nzai, during a recent stakeholder meeting with the Kenya Maritime Authority, called for enhanced enforcement of the laws to ensure compliance.
“We are seriously facing the threat of pollution. If nothing is done, the fishermen will possibly only be harvesting plastics,” Mr Nzai said.