By Shirley Wandera (14/06/2023)

The Blue Economy Knowledge Share Fair, done in collaboration with the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the ECOFISH Programme, kicked off yesterday at the SunAfrica Hotel, Nyali, Mombasa.

The event was graced by various dignitaries, including stakeholders in the maritime and fisheries sector, hosted by Mombasa County Governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nasir.

The event focuses on leveraging the blue economy, small-scale fisheries management, and aquatic biodiversity conservation among communities along the coast.

 “Mombasa has almost finalized converting all beach management units into cooperatives and as for own source funding, set aside 200Million in partnership with agricultural finance cooperation into a kitty to assist small-scale fishing”, said Governor Nassir.

The governor further hinted at a partnership proposal for a water transportation system within the country with aspirations to scale to Africa.

“We as a city, in the prospect of growing our blue economy, recently advertised a partnership proposal for an inter-county, inter-town, and inter-sub-county water transportation system. We are soon advertising for a partnership to put up exhibition centers within the country if not the region and why not the whole of Africa as well”, he added.

Lamu Governor Issa Timmamy called for concerted and deliberate efforts to address the plastic menace in water bodies that pose a global threat to the blue economy.

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Photo by Shirley Wandera: Lamu Governor, Issa Timmamy (Left) with Mombasa Governor, Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir (Middle), and Head of Mission IGAD to the Republic of Kenya, Dr. Fatuma Adan (Right), cutting the ribbon to officially open the Blue Economy Knowledge Share Fair.

“Our systems are choking. Most island states and coastal communities like those in Lamu rely significantly on tourism. We need clean beaches free of plastic to allow tourism and biodiversity to thrive”, said Governor Timmamy.

Timmamy also noted the proactive measures taken by the Lamu County government to maximize the full potential of the Blue Economy and ensure sustainable utilization of its resources.

He acknowledged that attention is given to incorporating marine structure and planning into the county’s integrated planning.

This ensures the utilization of marine resources aligns with long-term environmental and socio-economic goals. Recognizing the significant reliance of local communities that depend on the Blue economy resources.

In a speech on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs, Salim Mvurya, the new administration has allocated Sh.267.7B across nine value chains to support grassroots communities focusing on the youth and women.

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Photo By Shirley Wandera: Dr. Fatuma Adan, Head of Mission IGAD, to the Republic of Kenya, listening to the presentations at the Blue Economy Knowledge Share Fair.

Among these value chains is the Blue Economy and fisheries value chain aimed to generate employment income through manufacturing and processing.

“Despite its recognition, the potential of the blue economy sector in Kenya remains the least understood area in the economy and thus the least exploited. We are shaping opinions, fostering social and behavior change to bring about wider ownership participation and investment.” the speech read in part.

As Kenya strives to unlock the vast potential of the blue economy, efforts are being made to raise awareness, encourage regional integration to foster economic growth through shared resources and attract investment in this relatively untapped sector.