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Blue economy stakeholders gather for knowledge sharing fair

Different stakeholders from the Blue Economy (BE) sectors have converged in Mombasa for a four-day knowledge and experience sharing fair in a bid to grow the sector and learn from each other.

The event, which is organized by IGAD, the AU-IBAR, and ECOFISH, is meant to synergize and add value to the knowledge the IGAD member states have on the blue economy sector in a bid to build a better continent and make the Blue Economy a reality that supports the livelihoods of communities.

Speaking during the opening of the event, IGAD Head of Mission to Kenya, Dr. Fatuma Adan, said that IGAD member states have great Blue Economy (BE) potential that is underutilized.

Adan said traditional sectors such as fisheries, tourism, mineral extraction, and marine and river transport capacities are currently lacking attention, while emerging sectors such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, bioprospecting, desalination, and renewable energy will require substantial attention in the future.

She noted that BE has massive untapped potential and could be one of the largest contributors to higher and faster Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Kenya.

“For instance, innovation and growth in the coastal, marine, and maritime sectors, as we witness in places like Mombasa, where we are, could deliver food, energy, and transport, among other products and services, and serve as a foundation for sustainable development in Kenya,” she said.

She said there is a need to document and disseminate the knowledge and experiences in different BE sectors so that the African continent can learn from each other and even from outside the continent.

“It is against this background that IGAD, AU-IBAR, and the ECOFISH programme are joining forces to organize this blue economy knowledge share fair under the theme “leveraging the blue economy through efficient small-scale fisheries management and aquatic biodiversity conservation to build the Africa we want,” she added.

Adan said the planned share fair will help strengthen the IGAD Secretariat’s knowledge management unit to ensure it is accessible to all member states and BE stakeholders.

She noted that the AU-IBAR and ECOFISH programme will benefit from knowledge sharing in identifying and documenting knowledge, technology, and innovations for future scale-ups.

The Council of Governors’ Chairman of the Blue Economy, Issa Timamy, called for collaboration and partnerships among countries in the region to ensure they share resources, promote sustainable marine and coastal resources, and embrace the common challenges.

Timamy said as governors, they have a role to ensure they maximize on the sustainable use of the blue economy’s resources, make efforts, adopt strategies, and transform them into opportunities.

“The focus is on developing and enhancing the capacities and resilience of the people who depend heavily on these resources. We in the region, have the potential to enhance our regional integration and conserve our biodiversity; we need to form strategic partnerships so as to maximize all forms of cooperation for sustainable development of the blue economy sector,” he said.

He said that in order to enhance economic growth, there is a need to promote sustainable tourism, fishing, and aquaculture, among other activities, to create jobs and generate income for our local communities.

He added that people should thrive to protect marine biodiversity by promoting sustainable practices that will reduce the impact of human activities on the ocean.

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir said that the county has a shared dedication to integrating economic development and environmental sustainability.

Nassir said that the county thrives on the wealth of its rivers and guarantees equitable access to the resources, and protects the integrity of its aquatic ecosystems for present and future generations.

“The blue economy carries with it extraordinary promises of untapped potential waiting to be utilized. Small-scale fisheries are a vital source of livelihood for the coastal communities, providing nourishment, income, and a sense of cultural identity,” he said.

He said the county has almost finalized converting all the beach management units into cooperatives.

By Chari Suche

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