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India confirms participation in Blue Economy conference in Nairobi

Namwamba attended dinner hosted in honour of IORA delegates in Durban South Africa.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – India has confirmed her participation in this month’s High Level Conference on the Blue Economy, Kenya’s inaugural blue economy summit.

India’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh confirmed the country’s participation when he met Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba on the sidelines of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers meeting in Durban, South Africa, on Friday.

Namwamba has been lobbying twenty-one foreign ministers attending the conference to send delegations to the blue economy conference set to commence on November 26.

Among countries that have confirmed participation are Canada, Japan, and South Africa.

Canada and Japan have pledged funding for the conference to the tune of Sh 300 million each.

Canada’s support entails a Sh 100 million non-monetary contribution.

Kenya will be seeking new partnerships in harnessing the potential of its blue economy while addressing emerging challenges including development of a comprehensive response to ocean health during the blue economy conference.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb Macharia Kamau who on Wednesday chaired a preparatory session with ministry officials singled out economic growth as a key outcome of the conference to be held on November 26 to 28.

“The immediate outcome for me the biggest opportunity that can arise is the partnerships that will be built between business-to-business, the partnerships that will be built between government-to-government to enjoin themselves onto this challenge of maximizing the opportunities of the blue economy,” Amb Kamau indicated in an earlier interview.

The meeting which came just a day after Kamau announced that the ministry had reached its Sh 800 million target for resources required to successfully host the summit sought to fine-tune plans as the Nairobi prepares to welcome over 5,000 delegates.

According to Kamau, delegates will also discuss the existential threat an increase in plastic waste in the ocean poses.

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“Our conference is looking at the challenge of creating greater prosperity, the challenge of fighting poverty, the challenge of protecting the planet as we move forward and how we can bring these three together,” he said.

Current estimates show about eight million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean each year out of which 230,000 tons are micro-plastics.

Studies also indicate a plastic waste dumped into the ocean could increase tenfold by 2020 outnumbering fish in the ocean by 2050.

Kenya is facing a monumental task to increase revenue streams from traditional ocean industries including fisheries, maritime transport, and tourism.

Fish processing is seen as critical to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s four-point development agenda through which he seeks to expand Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the manufacturing from 9.2 per cent to 20 per cent by 2022.

Currently, fisheries contribute about 0.5 per cent of GDP despite Kenya having a 230,000 square kilometer maritime territory.

The country is yet to explore emerging opportunities in offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, and marine biotechnology.


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