Kenya’s golden chance to right mistakes on blueeconomy is here
SEE ALSO :Counties seek to unlock economyWhile other delegations at Iora ministerial conferences are led by ministers of either Fisheries or Ocean and Marine Development, the Kenyan team is always led by under-secretaries. In 2012, during his short stint at the Foreign Affairs ministry, Prof Sam Ongeri’s was among the most notable speakers at the conference held in the commercial and hospitality hub of Gurgaon, India. But when Iora countries gathered at the First Ministerial Blue Economy Conference in September 2015 in Mauritius, the then Nyali MP Hezron Awiti was the senior most Kenyan official. Kenya’s input at the conference was minimal. Issues canvassed at these meetings include fisheries and aquaculture, marine safety and security cooperation and the promotion of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management in the Indian Ocean rim. Ocean bed mining is now big business not only for oil exploration and drilling, but also natural gas, gas hydrates, manganese and body oil products enriched with natural sea minerals and sea salt. Governments have generated policy, legal and institutional considerations to enable them operate within international standards as they exploit blue economy resources.
SEE ALSO :Uhuru unveils Kenya Coast Guard ServiceIt is from such ventures that countries like Mauritius have developed an advanced Tuna harvesting and processing projects which earn the country huge amounts of export revenue. Focus should also be on facilitating transfer of technology to Kenya from countries that have over the years made big strides in different marine fields. That should also include promotion of cultural exchange, university exchange programmes to promote research and other academic discourses in the blue economy sector. That the organisers of the Nairobi conference have anchored it on sustainability, climate change and controlling pollution, and production, accelerated economic growth, jobs and poverty alleviation shows how much the sector can offer. The conference will focus on new technologies and innovation for oceans, seas, lakes and rivers as well as the challenges, potential opportunities, priorities and partnerships. -The writer is a media consultant and has covered several Blue Economy conferences