Counties in pre-blue economy conference meet, seek to unlock economy

Some of the organisers of the event that will be held November 19-20 in Malindi. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

Political leaders and professionals from six counties at the Coast will converge in Malindi next week to discuss investment opportunities in the blue economy along the Indian Ocean.

The two-day Jumuiya Agribusiness and Blue Economy Investment Conference (Jabeic) is organised by Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP) and is a prelude to the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference to be held in Nairobi later this month.

According to JKP secretariat, the conference will be held at the Ocean Beach Resort in Malindi, Kilifi County, November 19-20.

The event, to be attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, was earlier slated for November 14-16.

Speaking during a pre-conference briefing yesterday, Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, who is also the chairman of Jabeic 2018, said the conference would bring together the national and six Coast county governments, the private sector, farmers, investors, development partners and civil society.

“This conference is anchored on phase one of the regional economic blueprint – Jumuiya 2030 - for the next 12 years that was developed by the JKP secretariat and Food Agricultural Organisation with a view to increasing the region’s economic fortunes, and strengthening and consolidating collaboration in agreed fields. This will lead to equitable development in the member counties and in return improve standards and quality,” said Mr Saburi.

Shared resources

The conference, according to Saburi, would lead to the unlocking of a multi-billion dollar economy through leveraging economies of scale and shared resources.

The Coast region is rich in unique sea and land resources, among them the Indian Ocean, rivers, lakes, marine resources, tree crops, forestry (mangroves), kayas, minerals, wildlife, tourism, diverse cultures, monuments, heritage and history that has remained largely underutilised.

Also present at the briefing yesterday were Mombasa Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Executive Hassan Mwamtoa and his Kilifi colleague, Luciana Sanzua, and the chairperson of the Mombasa chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rukia Rashid.

Reports have established that the Kenyan Coast is home to some of the most marginalised communities in the country.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in 2014 found that income distribution inequality was highest in Tana River followed by Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties.

“The conference is aptly themed ‘Changing the Story’. We are committed to seeing this conference be the beginning of the end of income inequality at the Coast,” said Emmanuel Nzai, the secretary/chief executive officer at the JKP secretariat.

Mr Nzai, who previously served as a Vision 2030 Secretariat CEO, observed that the key agenda of the conference would be on how residents can benefit from the mega infrastructure projects that were being developed by the national government and investments in agribusiness – horticulture, livestock and fisheries.

"Under the Vision 2030 development strategy, the Kenyan coast has been host to development projects bolstering the blue economy agenda," he said.

Tourist town

The conference is expected to attract at least 1,000 delegates and visitors to Malindi town and will include exhibitions on food and various other products, and a fishing competition.