Kenya to host EU conference on blue economy

Mining CS Salim Mvurya and European Union Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger when they met to deliberate on Blue Economy at Transcom House, Nairobi, February 15, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kenya is set to host European Union Blue Invest Africa conference.

The meeting to kick off on July 3, 2024, was announced by the European Union Ambassador to Kenya, Henriette Geiger on Thursday.

“The idea is to bring investment in the blue sector and the government has already done a lot of work to provide positive regulatory frame work”, she said. 

She spoke Thursday during a press conference at the Ministry of Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs office in Nairobi.

The EU ambassador said that the upcoming conference will bring together investors from the European Union and African countries to see how they can spur the blue economy.

The investors will be seeking to explore partnerships and opportunities around Kenya's blue economy sectors like fisheries, ocean renewable energy, tourism and transportation.

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya said the aim of conference is to highlight sustainable ventures within sectors like fisheries, transportation, tourism and renewable ocean energy that can drive economic growth while protecting oceans and lakes.  

"We are looking to the European Union to collaborate with us to attract more investments into deep sea fishing," Mvurya said.

The CS said deep sea fishing was a key priority sector for realising the potential of Kenya's blue economy and the ministry is eager to forge technical and funding partnerships with the EU around maritime industries.

"Deep sea fishing represents a massive yet untapped opportunity if we can get international partners on board to provide the right technologies and financing," he said. 

Mvurya revealed that the ministry is set to develop the underdeveloped infrastructure for fishing vessels and fish landings along the Indian Ocean coast and Lake Victoria.

“Many of the fishermen in both Lake Victoria and Indian Ocean do not have proper infrastructure for fishing,” he said. 

He noted that fishing boats lack suitable landing points which makes the fresh catch to rot before reaching the market or export channels.

To address this, the CS announced that the government is constructing the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex in Mombasa, to transform the area into a value-addition hub.

"One of the projects is the Liwatoni fish complex, a value addition point and fish port in Shimoni an opportunity for partnerships in the private sector,” he said. 

Geiger commended Kenya's efforts in providing a robust legal environment and noted the EU has supported the development of the upcoming conference. 

"This conference is very important to build confidence and trust, and to highlight the enormous potential of the blue economy," the envoy said.

This will be the second time Kenya hosts the event, which connects African entrepreneurs to international investors around projects that can advance the continent's blue economy.

The focus for BlueInvest Africa 2024 will be showcasing transformative maritime and coastal projects, with an emphasis on innovation, job creation and marine ecosystem preservation.

The CS said: “We are trying to see how we can leverage these infrastructures that can also attract further investments and partnerships from the EU.”

Mvurya noted that the government has already supported 140 newly launched fishing boats for Beach Management Units and plans the additional launch of 25 deep sea vessels soon with the goal of strengthening local capacity. 

“We have already supported Beach Management Units that we are now working to register them into cooperative societies as we speak we have already supported with 140 boats which we should be launching and given a further 25 deep sea vessels which will be launching soon,” he said. 

All this is geared towards harnessing our potential to explore the fisheries potential in our country.

More importantly we are looking up to the EU to work with us so that we can have investments in the deep-sea fishing.

He said the efforts are geared towards exploring our fisheries wealth.

Mvurya revealed that discussions are already underway around securing a large EU fishing vessel to access Kenya’s Indian Ocean waters and demonstrate the promise of high-value catches to foreign investors.

“In the next few months, we should be getting a vessel that is going to be working around the Indian ocean and that is part of the discussion to see how we can increase investment in that particular sector,” the CS said.

The EU is looking forward to the coastal conference in showcasing profitable and sustainable ways to harness Kenya's vast marine resources, from capacity building to value-added chains for exporting fisheries products directly to the EU market.

“We are looking at potential areas where we can harness the economic partnerships agreement, building value chains in the fisheries for export to the EU,” he said 

“Kenya has so much to gain from investing in the Blue economy and we have looked not enough in this sector,” Geiger said.

"Aquaculture can not be neglected it is a growing sector both in Kenya and in Europe," she added.

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