More than 400 world maritime economists and blue economy experts from 40 different countries are gathered in Mombasa under the banner of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME).
The maiden conference held in Kenya and Africa for the first time was mainly sponsored by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
The 26th edition of the annual IAME 2018 high-level convergence at the Pride Inn Paradise Beach Resort saw top-notch maritime experts’ present 100 highly technical research papers on maritime, shipping and port issues.
The maritime conference ran under the theme ‘sustainable maritime, port and logistics industries in emerging economies: towards a path of Blue Growth’.
The conference in Mombasa is a precursor to the high-level conference Kenya and Canada will be co-hosting on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nairobi, from 26 – 28th November 26—28, 2018.
The goal of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference is ‘to promote sustainable investments in oceans, seas, lakes and rivers with a view to unlocking the untapped potential for accelerated and inclusive economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation’.
It is expected that the Conference will attract 6000 participants from around the world to share experiences and move forward the sustainable management and conservation of the blue resources.
The IAME delegates on Friday visited the Mombasa port and toured the new second container terminal.
Maritime and Shipping Affairs Principal Secretary (PS), Mrs. Nancy Karigithu officially opened the global conference on behalf of Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia.
Others in attendance were Mombasa Deputy Governor Dr. William Kingi, Belgium Ambassador to Kenya, Nicolas Nihon and IAME President, Dr. Jan Hoffman who said IAME was honoured and happy to hold its annual conference in Kenya on its 26th anniversary.
“Our association celebrates twenty-six years of service to a community of researchers and practitioners in port and shipping economics,’ said Dr. Hoffman.
The PS noted that the blue economy can play a major role in Africa’s structural transformation, sustainable economic progress and social development but regretted that these resources are vastly untapped.
She said the conference was historic coming as it does during a time when Africa has entered into a new phase of heightened efforts towards catalyzing development of the continent and strengthening economic integration and unity.
The government she said will continue to promote sustainable investments in the blue resources and unlock the potential of the oceans frontier to contribute to economic growth.
“The government will continue to promote the blue economy for sustainable management of our oceans and marine resources,’ she noted.
Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) delivered the key-note speech covering technical aspects of the forum.
Dr. Kituyi opened discussions on challenges and opportunities for maritime transport in Africa during the UNCTAD ad-hoc expert meeting on the sidelines of the IAME conference.
“We are engaging you to strengthen evidence based advice on the maritime,economy,transport and particularly on trade facilitation which is a very import contribution for this continent in pursuit of a very ambitious agenda’ Dr. Kituyi told the delegates.
He said the ad-hoc expert meetings provide a forum for discussion and exchange of views on how best to scale up and strengthen research work.
The Blue Economy refers to the economic activities derived from the maritime sector and covers both aquatic and marine spaces including oceans, seas, coasts, lakes, rivers and underground waters.
The various levels of the blue economy development concept have been discussed in four-day discussion sessions, including maritime connectivity, marine resources conservation and coastal management.
Mrs. Karigithu said the government will put in place necessary policy measures to harness and realize the full potential of the blue economy.
She said protection, conservation, preservation and sustainable use of oceanic resources must be at the centre stage of the blue economy.
Dr. Kituyi emphasized on the importance of conservation of marine resources in the process of economic development.
He said the concept of blue economy has become the new trend of alternative economic models of sustainable development that puts the oceans and the maritime sector as its centre.
KPA acting Managing Director Dr. Daniel Manduku said the port of Mombasa that serves Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan is providing connectivity to over 80 ports worldwide.
He said ports in Africa need to increase their investment in infrastructure development to facilitate trade and cope with growing business demand.
He said KPA has completed the construction of the first phase of the second container terminal at accost of Sh.28 billion which brings on board an additional annual capacity of 550,000 twenty foot equivalent unit (TEUs).
“The construction of the second phase has kicked off and is expected to be complete by 2021 and will also bring an additional capacity of 450,000 TEUs of cargo capacity’ he said.
He went on ‘we have upgraded the Nairobi Inland Container Depot facility and expanded its annual capacity from 180,000 TEUs to 450,000 TEUs to complement the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)’.
The KPA MD announced that they have started plans to develop small shipping and cruise ports in Kilifi and Kwale counties to complement the major Mombasa and Lamu ports.
By Hussein Abdullahi