NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 20 – Kenya is appealing to the private sector, development partners and other countries to pledge support for the Blue Economy conference in November.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau says the conference that has already secured Sh200 million from Canada needs more support both in Cash and in kind.
Kenya needs about Sh800 million for the conference that is set to attract over 6,000 local, regional and international participants.
“We are also seeking support in kind and have seen a huge interest in this among them UNEP, UNDP as well as the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce which has pledged to hold forums during the conference on opportunities in the Blue Economy,” Kamau explained.
He says deals worth millions were expected to be signed during the conference with Kenya targeting opportunities in the Big Four Agenda.
Kenya’s Blue Economy is estimated to be contributing about Sh44 billion to the Gross Domestic Product.
“The Blue Economy is underrated and can be a huge earner of revenue and job creation, the conference will also be seeking to look at sustainability, managing pollution, border management among others,” he noted.
Kamau was speaking on Wednesday the sidelines of the first pledging towards the conference.
The activities of the Blue Economy include harvesting of living resources such as sea food and marine biotechnology, extraction of non-living resources (seabed mining), and generation of new resources (energy and fresh water).
Kenya has only focused on fisheries both for domestic and export markets.
Fisheries account for only about 0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generate employment for over two million Kenyans through fishing, boat building, equipment repair, fish processing, and other ancillary activities.
“The full economic potential of marine resource has not been exploited, given that Kenya has a maritime territory of 230,000 square kilometres and a distance of 200 nautical miles offshore, which is equivalent to 31 of the 47 counties,” says a 2017 report from the Kenya Marine Authority.
According to the report, blue economy contributes about US$1.5 trillion per annum globally (3 per cent of global GDP) and creates approximately 350 million jobs in fishing, aquaculture, coastal and marine tourism and research activities.
A number of countries in the Western Indian Ocean including Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Union of Comoros have developed action plans as well as advanced policies and institutional frameworks to support in exploiting the blue economy.
The estimated annual economic value of goods and services in the marine and coastal ecosystem of the Western Indian Ocean is estimated to be US$22 billion, and Kenya’s share is only 20 per cent, mainly from tourism.