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East and Central Africa to adopt common strategy for exploitation of blue economy

Ministers in charge of Shipping and Maritime Affairs from the East and Central African region will meet at the end of this week in Livingstone, Zambia to adopt a common strategy to address challenges facing the Shipping and Maritime industry in the region.

Under the umbrella of the Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS), the Ministers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo expect to come up with a common regional joint approach to drive the growth of the Blue Economy within the region.

ISCOS is a Regional Maritime Organisation operating in Eastern, Central and Southern African regions and whose current Member States are the States of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 8th annual maritime conference is running under the theme: Enhancing Collaborations, Building synergies for the transportation and Growth of Africa’s shipping and maritime sector. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs, Mr. Salim Mvurya and Principal Secretary, State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs, Mr. Shadrack Mwadime are representing the country at the high-level Assembly.

Mvurya said Kenya seeks to highlight the blue economy as an important centerpiece of the country’s national development strategy.

“The national government has ambitious plans to take Kenya on board the blue economy for sustainable and resilient growth,” said Mvurya, adding that by safeguarding and enhancing ocean health, countries will be in a better position to take full advantage of the future Blue Economy.

He said the Blue Economy is at the core of the economic development and competitiveness of Africa’s coastal countries. “We are cognizant of the fact that the blue economy sector has a role to boost the economic value chain in marine tourism, transportation, fishery, and conservation,” said Mvurya.

“It has been observed that sustainably containing the emerging industry challenges calls for a closer open and mutual cooperation and collaboration amongst key national and regional stakeholders of the shipping and maritime industry,” noted ISCOS Secretary General, Mr. Daniel Kiange.

He said it was therefore vital for the organisation to create a platform where “national technocrats and policy makers would dialogue, propose, harmonise positions, identify common opportunities and challenges and propose measures in a collaborative environment to address them with a regional perspective.”

Kiange said sustainable exploitation of the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers also known as the blue economy will increase countries’ earnings. The blue economy sector covers a wide range of economic activities within coastal communities such as fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport and coastal tourism.

Technocrats and experts of Shipping and Maritime industry from the five countries have been holding a pre-ISCOS Assembly of Ministers forum from Monday this week. They are expected to come up with a draft road map to guide development of the Blue Economy in the region, which will be presented to the Ministers for adoption.

“We believe that this pre-ISCOS Assembly of Ministers consultative forum of Technical officers will form a solid platform at which regional shipping and maritime industry issues are diagnosed and clear prepositions formed and addressed to policy makers for policy direction,” said Mwadime.

By Andrew Hinga and Hussein Abdullahi

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