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Coast counties benefit from blue economy sector

The government has been urged to invest adequately in the Blue Economy sector as a way of tapping into the sector’s vast potential and creating employment opportunities for youth.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony for students trained under the Go Blue Programme, Mr Ali Mwanzei, technical advisor for the GoBlue project for Jumuiya ya Kaunti Za Pwani, said the sector had the potential to transform lives for many youths in the region through the creation of jobs in areas that do not get adequate attention from policy makers.

His words underscored the untapped potential of maritime resources and the urgent need for increased investment.

The blue economy, a term referring to the sustainable use of maritime resources for economic growth, has been the focus of the GoBlue project. Mr Mwanzei provided a comprehensive overview of the project’s activities and achievements, highlighting its significant impact on coastal communities.

The project has notably bolstered the fisheries and cassava value chains in coastal counties. A testament to this is the donation of 26 fishing boats to local fish farmers in Vanga, Moshi, and Lamu.

This initiative is expected to significantly enhance the income from fishing activities. Additionally, the provision of cold storage units will ensure the safe preservation of their catch during unfavourable market conditions, thereby reducing waste.

In a strategic partnership with farming communities in Matsangoni, Kilifi County, and Magodi, Kwale County, the GoBlue project has facilitated the cultivation of cassava for forty farmers on one-acre plots of land.

The establishment of local cassava processing plants will enable the conversion of this produce into various products, such as flour and chips. Mr Mwanzei, also a representative for Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP), revealed plans for a Jumuiya food brand to distribute and sell these processed foods.

Addressing the state of the country’s blue economy, Mr Mwanzei lamented that not enough was being done to enable the earning of revenue from the sector.

“We are not investing as much as possible in the blue space for us to be able to earn more revenue from it,” said Mr Mwanzei.

To address this, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), in collaboration with the national government, will facilitate the training of 3000 students in marine transport and logistics, hospitality, maritime security, and vessel repairs. This initiative promises to open up employment opportunities in the maritime sector.

The Philippines was cited as a case study, where the marine sector has been extensively developed, leading to economic growth and community empowerment.

Ms Faith Odera, the regional coordinator for the project with GIZ, confirmed that the project would come to an end in December. However, she emphasized the project’s significant impact over the past three years, citing the rise in aquaculture in the county and the graduation of four batches of 120 students each from the Voi Vocational Training Centre.

Mr Peter Mburu, County Director for Youth Affairs, urged the graduates to identify opportunities and devise solutions to societal challenges.

“Your ideas have the power to shape the future, to drive economic progress, and to improve the lives of countless individuals,” he said.

He cautioned them about the challenges ahead and urged them to collaborate with established entrepreneurs for guidance in navigating the business world.

Sinapis, one of the implementers of the Go Blue program in the region, has trained over 530 people in various entrepreneurial skills against a target of 460. Mr. Robert Wahome, Coast Program Manager for Sinapis, said the aim was to equip as many young people as possible with relevant business skills to enable them to start their businesses. Those who graduated have ventured into many sectors, including poultry farming, aquaculture, photography, baking, and banana farming.

By Billington Mwanzia

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