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Kenyan maritime trainees secure opportunities aboard French vessels

Bandari Maritime Academy seafarer trainees have a reason to smile after a Mombasa-based premier maritime training centre, secured them apprenticeship opportunities with French shipping giant CMA CGM.

This is after the maritime academy signed a high-level Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CMA CGM, a leading French container transportation and shipping company with its headquarters in Marseille, the second-largest city in France.

The Government owned Bandari Maritime Academy, hitherto, known as the Bandari College, under the Kenya Ports Authority, is a regional centre of excellence for skills development for the blue economy sector.

A section of the Bandari Maritime Academy trainees who have secured training opportunities aboard CMA CGM vessels. Photo by Hussein Abdullahi

CMA CGM is a leading worldwide shipping group using 257 shipping routes between 420 ports spread in 160 different countries.

The signing ceremony at the maritime centre was graced by the State Department for Maritime and Shipping Affairs Principal Secretary (PS), Nancy Karigithu, her Housing and Urban Development counterpart, Charles Hinga, the French Ambassador to Kenya, Aline Kuster-Menager and The National Treasury Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Nelson Gaichuhie.

Others in attendance were CMA CGM, Africa Vice President, Ludovic Rozan, CMA-CGM Managing Director, East Africa Jean-Baptiste Longin and Vision 2030 Director General, Ken Mwige and the Chief Executive Officer, Bandari Maritime Academy, Francis Muraya, among other senior government officials.

Karigithu noted that the MoU creates a framework to facilitate support for the training and enhancement of skills and competencies in the country’s maritime sector.

“One of the key areas of focus of the agreement is to create opportunities to provide sea time opportunities to maritime cadets as well as training for shore-based shipping and ports operations” she said.

Karigithu said the training opportunities to work in foreign-flagged ships will further enhance the global competitiveness and employability of Kenyan seafarers in the international shipping arena.

Maritime and Shipping Affairs PS, declared that the country is in a transformative process for revitalizing her maritime spaces by tapping into the immense opportunities in the blue economy sector.

She said sustainable investment in the blue economy sector, will help promote tourism, manage fish reserves, create jobs for the youth and social progress for present and future generations.

“But in order to steer the blue economy to greater heights, there is urgent need for highly skilled and qualified maritime personnel,” she quipped.

PS Karigithu said her department will continue to secure both local and international seafaring jobs for Kenyan youth.

“We want them to acquire the requisite skills and knowhow to enable them compete favorably for employment opportunities in the vast blue economy sector,” she noted.

She said local maritime students after classroom training are often unable to obtain slots for practical training aboard a vessel due to shortage of training slots, making them unemployable in the long run.

CMA-CGM Managing Director, East Africa, Jean-Baptiste Longin, said the Company will be training cadets from the Maritime Academy on board their ships and sail with them around the globe.

“We are happy to offer Kenyan maritime cadets, practical training slots onboard our ships sailing in international waterways,” said Longin.

The Chief Executive of Bandari Maritime Academy, Francis Muraya, says the Institution is determined to provide world-class maritime education and training for the next generation of shipping industry personnel.

“Our partnership with CMA CGM, will offer our maritime cadet hands-on training and prepare them for success in their careers of choice,” he said.

He said the Maritime Academy seeks to churn out 2,000 professionals annually, to support the blue economy sector, which he termed as a ‘key driver of the country’s economic transformation’.

“Currently we have 400 trainees pursuing courses such as Nautical Sciences, Marine Engineering and Marine Transport Logistics,” he said.

Muraya said the collaboration with the French shipping giant CMA CGM, will keep the local seafarers up to date, with the latest trends, learning, and technology in the industry.

“Such partnerships with established international container shipping companies will cement our position as the premier maritime education and training institution in the country” he said.

By Hussein Abdullahi

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