Mvurya urges varsities to offer mining, blue economy courses

CS Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Salim Mvurya speaking after flagging off state departmental vehicles in Nairobi on March 15th, 2024. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya has urged the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) to focus on blue economy, mining and technology courses which are market-oriented.

Mvurya said that there is a challenge in expertise for geo-survey and ground truthing, sampling and testing of minerals.

The CS revealed that there are also opportunities in the maintenance of ships that can resonate with the courses offered by the institution.

Mvurya spoke during the 5th TUM Multidisciplinary Conference and Innovation in Mombasa county where he offered scholarships to five top innovative ideas from TUM that will be funded by the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).

He said that the mining, fisheries, blue economy and marine sectors have lucrative opportunities for students.

“All these sectors are key to the Kenyan economy. The entire world is now focused on climate change which involves mining, blue economy and maritime. The three topics hold the future for the nation and the future into green energy,” said Mvurya.

He noted that the government needs more experts who can test and sample minerals, which is currently done in Nairobi or Tanzania.

“Geo-survey and ground truthing is an area that requires universities to focus on. Taita Taveta University is focusing on that. We want geologists and marine engineers. There is a challenge of expertise in sampling and testing of minerals. Let us blend the university courses to produce experts in these fields," said Mvurya.

The CS announced that Kenya being a member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), institutions should collaborate with IMO and benefit from the Sh336 million grant for research.

Mvurya said the grant would benefit research at KMA, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

The CS promised to support TUM to get the required funding for maritime courses.

“We are looking to provide dry docking and maintenance of ships in Kenya. We are working with the ship yards in Mombasa and Kisumu to allow for ship maintenance and this will provide at least 1,000 jobs. These are areas you can bring in expertise and interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Mvurya.

He called for interdisciplinary engagement in all sectors towards generating ideas and achieving innovative ways for a sustainable future.

“Students and researchers should have the opportunity to come up with ideas that industries and the private sector can adopt, with the industry providing seed funds to develop different prototypes. These projects must be relevant to the needs of society, whether in the private sector, government or the community making them viable businesses,” said Mvurya.

The CS revealed that the government has received Sh336 million grant to fund maritime courses and beneficiaries are JKUAT, KPA and KMA.

He said that President William Ruto has emphasized on inter-disciplinary between state agencies and learning institutions to achieve the Medium Development Goals (MDGs) under Vision 2030.

Mvurya revealed that the government is engaging experts to understand how they can move blue economy to inspire real economy.

The CS said the government has invested in 150 boats for deep sea fishing and will add five more next month and have Beach Management Units (MBUs) transformed into cooperatives.

He invited universities to work with the ministry to get new investments to create signals connecting the boats in the ocean and inland waters. 

“It is good that these topics are part of what they are taught at TUM. A lot of focus is on security and conservation. In blue economy, we need to look at real investment where players will be inspired from medium fishing to deep sea fishing," he said.

He noted that the country has registered 970 mineral occurrences and they have initiated reforms in the sector that received least investment.

“We are equipping ourselves with mining data. We have done a geo survey and we have seen 970 mineral occurrences in our country. We have done ground truthing in 24 counties and we have 14 major strategic minerals including colton, copper, lead, zinc, graphite, lithium and chromite which we shall confirm the economic value,” said Mvurya.

TUM Vice Chancellor Leila Abubakar said the institution was among the eight universities that received ICT grant to enable innovation and research and has come up with innovations that are set to impact the marine and blue economy sector.

She said the institution is creating an enabling environment to enable students to establish collaborative platforms.

“Allow our students to convert ideas into invoices and pay cheques. We know in Kenya we have a problem with employment so we are creating job creators. We focus on projects and attachment to the job market,” said Prof Abubakar.

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