The government has begun the construction of a Sh1.2 billion regional maritime transport and port logistics institute in Kwale County.
The ultra-modern training facility will be a regional centre of excellence for the East African region.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the regional flagship project at Chitsakamatsa area of Matuga Sub County was led by Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Salim Mvurya.
The ceremony for the commencement of construction works was also attended by the Principal Secretary (PS) for State Department for Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Esther Muhoria, Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani, Senator Issa Boy, Matuga MP Kassim Tandaza, area County Commissioner (CC) Gideon Oyagi and Kenya Coast National Polytechnic Chief Principal Anne Mbogo.
The institute that seeks to train a new generation of mariners is part of a World Bank project under the East Africa skills for transformation and regional integration project.
CS Mvurya said the government will promote sustainable investments in the blue resources and unlock the potential of the oceans frontier to contribute to economic growth.
He said once complete, the new facility is expected to equip trainees with relevant knowledge and skills in port logistics and marine transport and ‘will cater for the country’s maritime interest and place it in the category of a maritime powerhouse’.
Mvurya said the government is alive to the fact that the Indian Ocean presents an abundance of untapped opportunities for sustainable economic growth.
He said the regional training centre of excellence is part of an effort to spur the sustainable exploitation of the maritime resources which has remained unexploited for decades for economic growth.
The project dubbed ‘East African Maritime Institute’ sitting on a 40-acre piece of land will be under the purview of the Mombasa based Kenya Coast National Polytechnic.
The CS said the regional maritime institute will be dedicated to the training of professionals in the maritime industry in such fields as shipbuilding and repairs and would be a ‘game-changer for the maritime sector’.
CS Mvurya said the first phase of the project co-funded by the Government of Kenya and the World Bank will gobble up Sh.806 million terming the investment a huge vote of confidence in the blue economy sector.
He revealed that the project is being implemented in partnership with the European Union (EU) through the Sh.3.5 billion ‘Go Blue’ initiative, which supports projects in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu.
The Go Blue project aims to harness important coastal and marine resources to achieve a sustainable blue economy and bring jobs to over 3,000 youth.
Mvurya said the blue economy is a conduit to the local economic take-off in the coastal counties.
Mvurya said the blue economy also known as the sustainable ocean-based economy is an emerging global issue which refers to sustainable exploitation of water resources describing it as the ‘next great economic frontier’.
The blue economy sector encompasses fisheries, maritime biotechnology, aquaculture, tourism and marine transport and logistics.
“The first phase comprising tuition blocks and administration blocks will take the next 18 months to complete,” he said, adding that it will have state-of-the-art facilities for students pursuing the global marine transportation industry.
He said the second phase of the institute which aims at developing competent graduates for the maritime sector will be launched immediately the first phase is completed by 2024 and asked the contractor Symbion International Architects to work round the clock to deliver the project within the given timeframe and in accordance with ‘our specifications and engineering standards’.
“Once the facility is up and running it will play an active role in the promotion of safe and secure waters in the region and also engaging diverse stakeholder groups in the blue economy trajectory,’ said Mvurya.
CS Mvurya said the centre of excellence will offer world class maritime training on the blue economy to students drawn from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said Kenya is positioning itself to become one of the leading maritime and logistics centres in Africa and that investments in the blue economy sector will spur job creation.
Mvurya said the quality of life is expected to increase because of the greater economic yields the country will receive from such maritime investments.
“What we are witnessing is a significant investment in the maritime industry and will in the long run enhance student and professional mariner experiential learning,” he said adding that the new facility seeks to provide comprehensive marine training programs for the youth and professionals in the sector using modern facilities.
The minister said the government is now turning its focus on maritime matters as the next frontier of economic growth and underscored the need for the youth to explore career opportunities at sea.
He said the maritime and blue economy sector offers a wide range of opportunities such as imports, exports, on board ships and institutions that interact with the blue economy sector.
CS Mvurya noted that world trade is heavily dependent on sea transportation and underscored the need to equip the youth with maritime skills.
CS Mvurya says that the main transport mode for global trade is ocean shipping, noting that around 90 percent of traded goods are carried over the waves.
“Maritime transport forms part of a whole cluster of economic activities that creates economic value addition and that is why the government is keen on developing this crucial sector for sustainable economic growth,” he said.
He said the centre will collaborate effectively with key stakeholders to ensure that the training offered were aligned with the needs of the industry and undertake continuous auditing of its programs to meet the changing times.
Industry stakeholders estimate that the blue economy, if properly implemented and harnessed, has the potential to create over 52,000 jobs in the next ten years besides having the capacity to inject Sh.470 billion into the economy.
CS Mvurya says the government is making efforts to unlock the potential of the blue economy offered by oceanic resources and urged the private sector to invest in the exploration of seabed resources.
By Hussein Abdullahi